Of all the film genres, one of my earliest memories involve Roger Moore with a gun and his secret gadgets. James Bond was the epitome of cool before I knew what cool was. In the decades since, it’s still cool to be a spy, someone suave who can get out of any situation and always get the girl. The troupes that also come with that are ripe for spoofing, or in the best of cases, doing a send up of a genre while still being an acceptable entry into said genre. Will Spies in Disguise fit the bill, or only be stuck with the beak of Will Smith as a pigeon?
Lance Sterling (Will Smith) is the uber-spy, he gets his missions done with style and charisma. Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) is a tech guy at their secret spy organization, who has dreams of creating new and innovative ways of helping to complete Sterling’s missions without the use of violence. After a rough introduction, Sterling is framed and must go on the run with the help of Beckett. But not before he is accidentally transformed into a pigeon, and the pair must find a cure, stop the bad guy and save the world without losing a feather.
The biggest and most obvious path Spies in Disguise could have taken (and maybe the fact that it is so obvious is the reason for not doing it) is to have the super-spy, team up with the awkward tech guy. I was ready to see that, especially when you add the obvious choices of the hour: Will Smith and Tom Holland. And it was well on its way, then the pigeon thing happens. Then it becomes a slap-sticky, tired, carbon copy of animated films that are instantly forgotten. The charisma of the pair do all they can to save the film. Aside the initial transformation scene there is not much else to enjoy from the film. The funnest moments are few and fleeting, most are visual gags that we are supposed to laugh at as well as the pigeon facts that come off as random and unfunny.
Most of the film I was wondering why Tom Holland fighting a bunch of drones, didn’t he already do that this year in Spider-Man: Far From Home? And Will Smith is fighting a villain that looks like him, didn’t he already do that this year in Gemini Man? The script also forces some of the much needed heart into the film that the globe-trotting duo sell pretty well at key moments, but it’s a bit late by the end. Overall it’s very serviceable for smaller kids who are young enough not to try and compare it to Pixar films and some of Dreamworks best work.