Here is a genially mediocre throwback to what has always been a rite of passage for US cinema’s frontline action men: the musclebound star demonstrating how good he is with kids, the better to establish a pension fund that may come in useful when their knees finally give out. Stomping along in the highly profitable footsteps of Schwarzenegger (Kindergarten Cop), Hulk Hogan (Mr Nanny, Suburban Commando) and Dwayne Johnson (practically his entire filmography), we now find erstwhile galaxy guardian Dave Bautista cast as a rough-edged CIA ass-kicker handed the last-chance assignment of babysitting fatherless tween Chloe Coleman.
The ideal viewer would, like Coleman, be anyone too young to have suffered Vin Diesel in The Pacifier; accompanying adults will be mostly unsurprised, maybe mildly diverted. After raising a 12A-rated terror threat, writers Jon and Erich Hoeber pause for an hour so our guy can bond with the moppet and her mom (Parisa Fitz-Henley), whose panicky plumbing blunders are a retrograde nudge that she really requires a man about the house. Director Peter Segal contributes a few spoofy gags that would have slotted into his Naked Gun three-quel of 1994, but the most 90s element is Dominic Lewis’s score, insistently demarcating shtick “heartwarming” or “comic”.
Gruff and roundheaded – not unlike a jacked Phil Collins – Bautista is amiable company, although he seems bemused at having to take dodgeballs to the face this early in his movie career, and perhaps by the mixed messaging. After doing all it can to persuade us America needs tough guys to watch over its young, My Spy climaxes with a group effort to repel its villains then a polite request for equal pay. Lowish-level titters are in evidence – mostly care of Kristen Schaal as Dave’s tech aide – while an analogue finale on a scrappy-looking airfield offers passing respite from the multiplex’s usual VFX-bloated city smashing.
• My Spy is in UK cinemas on 13 March.
Source: The Guardian