Spies in Disguise is the latest movie by the newest Disney-owned animation studio, Blue Sky Studios. This movie pits the world’s best spy in a battle against a criminal mastermind with a twist, the spy is a pigeon. Will Smith and Tom Holland partner up in this one and lend their voices to the main characters. It is the introductory directing performance of long-time Blue Sky Animator Nick Bruno and former DisneyToon animator Troy Quade.
Outside of my passion for animation in general, it was the voice-cast of this movie that intrigued me at first. Who doesn’t like the idea of Will Smith playing an animated version of himself and Tom Holland playing Linguini from Ratatouille mixed with Jimmy Neutron with a dash of Tom Holland thrown in there? I know I sure enjoyed the dynamic these two brought to the table. Rashida Jones played Marcy, an agent that was pretty much exactly what I’d expect to see if Rashida Jones worked as a spy in real life.
Moving more towards the animation side of things, I didn’t think the character models were anything special, to be honest. The shapes were all a little bit boxy which took a little away from the realism, but its a spy movie where a dude turns into a pigeon. So who really cares? The backgrounds were a lot more impressive to me than the characters. The setting goes from DC to a resort in Mexico, to Venice, to an old abandoned island turned into a weapons facility. All of the backgrounds felt details and added an aesthetic element to the otherwise ho-hum visuals of the movie.
The story arc in Spies in Disguise is kind of a tired, worn-out cliche. It is the story of a stuck-up hotshot getting forced to work with someone else that at first he really dislikes, but learns to appreciate. By the end of the movie that character goes through a full transformation and learns that life isn’t centered around them.
I watched this movie by myself, and let me just say that if you are a relative introvert like me, seeing a movie by yourself in an empty theater can be one of the most therapeutic experiences you can have. However, you will never laugh out loud as much watching a movie by yourself as you would in a full theater with your friends. That being said, I still found this movie to have some really good comedic moments. They had some really clever tropes having to do with the pigeons. There were definitely some gags that they went back to a couple too many times to the point where it wasn’t funny anymore. For instance, this big villain dude gets shot with a ray that makes all the muscles in his body go limp for a period of time. The next like 10 minutes of the movie is a continued gag about this guy who is flopping around on the floor like pudding, while he is naked. It was funny at first but they take it so far that it becomes a little uncomfortable. There is also another gag with these two male agents early on in the movie that you kind of assume to be a couple, where one gets knuckles from Lance (Will Smith) and they both swoon over it. It was a funny little gag and they go back to it later in the movie for another laugh, but then they return to this couple about 4 more times during the final attack on the spy headquarters and it really starts to come across as a very forced attempt to be inclusive.
Ultimately, Spies in Disguise isn’t anything to write home about. It doesn’t have the stunning animation or the gutwrenching emotion of many of the top animated classics. What it does have, however, is a fun story with a really good cast of voices. It has enough comedy to make you laugh, and enough action to keep you invested. It also has a pretty interesting villain character for the sparse amount screentime that he receives. All-in-all, if you are looking for a masterpiece, you may have to keep looking. If you just want a fun movie night with the family, Spies in Disguise should do the trick.