REVIEW: I spy lots of product placements in My Spy

Marcus Goh
Sophie Newton (Chloe Coleman) and JJ Cena (Dave Bautisa) in My Spy. (PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures)

Rating: PG13
Length: 102 minutes
Director: Peter Segal
Writer: Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber
Cast: Dave Bautisa, Chloe Coleman, Kristen Schall, Ken Jeong, and Parisa Fitz-Henley

It's hard to find a movie that can beat the amount of product placement and name dropping in My Spy, with the exception of Jack Neo movies. This Dave Bautista spy comedy tries its best to shove in the requests of virtually every sponsor, resulting in a giant theatrical commercial of a hodgepodge of different products.

The action comedy revolves around an emotionally damaged spy who finds himself with an unlikely "partner" — the 9-year-old daughter of a woman he has been sent to spy on. They strike up an unlikely friendship, even as the spy opens up and connects to the family he has been tasked to surveil. However, they find their friendship put to the test when a deadly villain arrives to threaten everything they hold dear.

Bobbi Ault (Kristen Schaal) teams up with JJ Cena (Dave Bautisa) in My Spy. (PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures)

To some extent, the sheer amount of product placement is amazing. How did they manage to fit so many mentions into one film? It gets nonsensical at times, like when they enunciate a brand's name clearly and carefully during a chase scene. At times, they just make generic mentions of an item when it would be more logical for them to actually mention a brand (like for social media), probably because they could not get sponsors for that particular product on board. But the excessive name dropping of brands has a serious consequence — a bloated run time.

For a simple premise with a predictable plot, My Spy lasts for over an hour and a half. The worst part is that it takes 45 minutes for the characters to actually fulfill the premise of the show. That's 45 minutes that could have been cut from the film to improve its pacing, and you wouldn't miss much, if anything, at all. The semi-interesting bits only come up in the second half, and the characters are bland and boring.

Dave Bautista can't really pull off the art of the befuddled reaction. The problem is that reaction shots are what drives this sort of comedy about tough guys who are fishes out of water. Ostensibly, the tough guy needs to act – but the word here is "ostensibly". Bautista doesn't have the sort of acting chops for this, which makes it a bit of a pain to watch.

JJ Cena (Dave Bautisa) in My Spy. (PHOTO: Golden Village Pictures)

Then there's Chloe Coleman, who plays the supposedly cute young girl Sophie Newton, is not half bad. The problem is that her character has been written as annoying rather than precocious, and even her direction pushes her to borderline irritating status. It feels like whoever wrote this show has no idea how children act, and instead pushes a fictional idea of how children behave in a strange and awkward way.

Of course, there are some nice bonding moments between Coleman and Bautista's characters, and the film does tug on the heart strings by playing the broken family card. It elicits some emotions, but those aren't very strong ones.

My Spy is mildly entertaining, but it feels like you're paying to watch some sort of Frankenstein's monster made up of product placement scenes. Save yourself the trouble — there are better films to watch.

Score: 2.1/5

Release date:
Singapore – 12 March
Philippines – 15 January

Marcus Goh is a television scriptwriter who writes for “Crimewatch”, as well as popular shows like “Lion Mums”, “Code of Law”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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