MOVIE REVIEW: Fresh take on cute kid winning over tough cop
Director: Peter Segal
Starring: Dave Bautista, Chloe Coleman, Kristen Schaal
Running time: 100 minutes
Verdict: Easy-going, odd couple action comedy
Dave Bautista makes a great buddy.
Hot on the heels of Stuber, in which he was partnered with Kumail Nanjiani's reluctant Uber driver, comes My Spy, which pairs him with a precocious nine-year-old girl.
After a top-secret operation involving a bunch of black-market arms dealers and some stolen, weapons-grade plutonium goes horribly wrong, Bautista's Special Forces veteran-turned-CIA agent is swiftly demoted.
While his colleagues are chasing the bad guys from one European city to another, JJ finds himself reassigned to light surveillance duty.
The widow of one of the arms dealers has relocated to a non-descript Chicago apartment building, along with her young daughter Sophie (Chloe Coleman).
As if monitoring the day-to-day domestic habits of a working single mother and her curly-haired offspring wasn't humiliating enough, the musclebound action man has been teamed
up with a nerdy tech expert named Bobbi (Kristen Schaal) on her first field job.
The situation goes from bad to worse when Sophie, who is bored and lonely, blows the inexperienced pair's cover.
Tech savvy, wise beyond her years, and desperate, the kid blackmails JJ into accompanying her first to the ice-skating rink and later to Bring A Special Friend day at school - because her mother, an A&E nurse, is too busy pulling double shifts at the hospital to accompany her.
Of course, it doesn't take long for Sophie to melt JJ's battle-hardened heart.
Or for romance to blossom between the emotionally arrested tough guy and Sophie's over-stretched mother (Parisa Fitz-Henley).
But after a brief interlude in which they play happy families - breaking all the CIA's covert operation rules in the process - Sophie's psychotic uncle turns up on the doorstep.
Chloe, JJ and Bobbi are all that stands between him and Armageddon.
My Spy follows a fairly standard movie template.
Over the years, we have seen plenty of grown men reduced to mush by their pint-sized co-stars - Arnold Schwarzenegger (Kindergarten Cop) and Dwayne Johnson (Game Plan) among them.
But Bautista tackles his latest assignment with good humour - and a few choice moves (director Peter Segal sets the tone with a fun opening sequence, which sends up the classic image of a bullet-proof action hero).
Coleman's character is cute without being cloying and Schaal brings a fresh perspective to the role of comic sidekick.
A light and breezy reworking of a familiar set-up.
My Spy opens on Thursday.