Spies in Disguise. Movie Review.

For an animation studio with such a large back catalogue it’s sad to say that Blue Sky have been the poster child for a mainstream animated mediocrity for most of that time (despite a few gems.) I suspect that the Disney/Fox deal does not bode well for their prospects in the long term. For the time being let’s have a look at their latest feature which has the easy one sentence pitch “Will Smith secret agent transforms into pigeon.” The trailer was pretty amusing I wasn’t sure how the concept would hold up for a feature running time. How does it fare?
The sad thing about Spies in Disguise is that well not especially good it’s on the upper end of Blue Sky efforts and it is recommendable for certain elements. The film has very nicely put together action sequences, the voice acting is strong across the board (even with the slightly terrifying presence of DJ Khaled) and enough of the jokes work that it will probably keep kids distracted for the time it’s on. Unfortunately the first act takes far too long to set up a very generic plot. A lot of the pigeon humour relies a lot more heavily on gross out gags then it should (trying to mine humour out of the fact that pigeons will eat litter as well as their own regurgitated vomit is just plain disgusting.) That said the biggest problem with the film ma is is Smiths wacky inventor sidekick voiced by Tom Holland. I don’t necessarily mind that this is a cliché in and of itself but my problem comes from the fact that his arc feels entirely ripped off from Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs I spent all the time he was on screen wishing that the script had the level of wit and invention you would see in a Lord and Miller production. Hollands character even has a similar design to Flint Lockwood. All of this cripples what might otherwise have been a solid family film.
Given Blue Sky’s track record Spies in Disguise is nowhere near as bad as it might have been. That said the fact there are actually some recommendable elements to the film makes the things that don’t work or feel generic/ ripped off all the more frustrating. If you’re looking for a family film to watch over the New Year you could do worse. You could also do a lot better.

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