My Spy (2020) isn’t kidding around in the cute stakes.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a muscular actor in possession of a good action movie career, must be in want of a crossover family-friendly vehicle. Schwarzenegger had “Kindergarten Cop”, The Rock made “The Tooth Fairy”, Vin Deisel did “The Pacifier” and Stallone had…er…“Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot”. Thus Spake Dave Bautista as he brings us “My Spy” although I doubt even the prophet Zarathustra could have foreseen that it would end up being one of the last movies many (but not nearly enough) people would see in a cinema as Covid-19 closed everything down.

After blowing his first assignment, for US Special Forces soldier turned CIA agent JJ (Bautista) is assigned to surveil the estranged family-in-law of a French arms dealer who has obtained plans for a miniature nuke and is planning to sell them to a Middle East terrorist.

As he proved in his break-out role in “Guardians Of The Galaxy”, Bautista has two major draws as a movie star: he’s got great likability and fantastic comic timing. Both play well into this kind of movie where he develops a winningly sweet chemistry with the family he’s sent to spy on, particularly the precocious Sophie (Chloe Coleman), who not only figures out JJ’s a spy but uses the knowledge to blackmail him into training her up. So far, so par for the course but where “My Spy” surprises is that it’s more romantic than you might be expecting and as much as there are fun and games with the Spy/ Kid combo, there’s a genuinely appealing romance between Bautista’s gruff but big-hearted agent and Sophie’s mother played by Parisa Fitz-Henley.

It’s fun, lightweight stuff with a perky supporting cast and a decent balance of comedy and action beats and while it’s unlikely to spawn a new action franchise, it’s an honourable entry in the pantheon of action star family comedies and promises big things ahead for both Bautista and Coleman.

7/10 

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