Spies in Disguise
by Hope Madden
The Christmastime animated feature Spies in Disguise (based on a short called Pigeon: Impossible, which is an altogether superior title) is a mash note to science, weirdos and peace. I can get behind that.
Will Smith is the voice of Lance Sterling, America’s top spy. Lance is cool. He’s daring. He’s unstoppable. And he flies solo.
But when an evil nemesis (the always welcome Ben Mendelsohn) outwits him, he turns reluctantly to nerdy gadget officer Walter (Tom Holland) for help.
Walter turns him into a pigeon. Naturally.
The ensuing fish out of water (pigeon out of air?) comedy is clever enough to keep your attention. It’s equal parts fun, good natured and funny without becoming overly sentimental.
Besides Smith, Holland and Mendelsohn, Spies boasts impressive and interesting vocal talent choices: Reba McEntire as the head of the agency, Rashida Jones as the lead investigator and Karen Gillan as another techy in the agency named Eyes.
The movie looks good. In fact, in certain scenes—particularly those in Venice—the film looks great. It also carries with it a healthy message, one that writers Brad Copeland and Lloyd Taylor articulate without preaching.
The film is more charming than outright funny, relying on its leads’ natural charisma and fun chemistry, but it does offer more than a handful of chuckles. The wee ones at our screening laughed a good deal, while the slightly older tots laughed on occasion but seemed entertained throughout.
It’s also a film that won’t make parents want to wait in the lobby.