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Spies in Disguise (Will Smith/Tom Holland) - DVD Review

Spies in Disguise

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

WILL Smith and Tom Holland bring terrific vocal chemistry to animated romp Spies in Disguise, a good-natured and frequently laugh out loud funny crowdpleaser that the whole family can enjoy.

Inspired by an award-winning animated short from 2009, entitled Pigeon: Impossible (from screenwriter and animator Lucas Martell), the film takes flight from an admittedly absurd premise but makes it work thanks to the charisma of its cast and the slick nature of its set pieces.

Smith voices Lance Sterling, a super-cool spy in the James Bond mould, who always works alone and never gets flustered. But when his latest mission sees him framed for stealing a top secret government weapon, he’s forced to go on the run and team up with recently fired dorky gadget supplier Walter Beckett (Holland), who is an advocate of non-violent weaponry and finding a better way.

At first teasing Sterling with the idea of becoming invisible, Beckett eventually turns Sterling into a pigeon following a mis-understanding. Yet with no antidote immediately available, Sterling must adapt to his new guise and attempt to track down sinister mastermind Killian (Ben Mendelsohn) to clear his name, while remaining one step [or wing] ahead of pursuing internal affairs agent Marcy (Rashida Jones).

First-time directors Troy Quane and Nick Bruno may be operating in a familiar genre but they work hard to ensure that Spies in Disguise mostly feels fresh. The film looks great and cleverly drops visual references to everything from 007 to Kill Bill but it also operates from a place of great heart, as Beckett and Sterling overcome their differences to form an unlikely friendship.

There’s a nice balance between the character building and the action, while the laughs also fly thick and fast, with the verbal jousting between the charismatic Smith and the slightly more geeky Holland free-flowing and full of great witticisms (never more so than when bickering over a cloaca).

But there are some great sight gags, too, which play well to audiences of all ages – the sight of Smith’s pigeon attempting to get into his cool spy car reduced both myself and my son to fits of giggles.

Mendelsohn, as ever, makes a terrific villain, his distinct voice another contributing factor to the film’s overall success, while even the touchy-feely stuff isn’t overplayed. The film feels sincere and heartfelt too.

Put together, Spies in Disguise is a real treat for audiences young and old.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 102mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: April 27, 2020