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Spies in Disguise

Spies in Disguise
In my review of the live action remake of Aladdin, I talked about the fact that the only thing that didn't work for me was Will Smith's performance as the Genie. How ironic that the best thing about a 2019 animated Bond spoof called Spies in Disguise is the voice work of Will Smith in the central role.

This overly complex spy adventure is about a suave and slick spy named Lance Sterling who has been framed by an enemy agent who has stolen a dangerous weapon while disguising himself as Sterling. Sterling turns to a techno geek who makes gadgets for the agency named Walter (voiced by Tom Holland) in assisting in helping Sterling disappear. Walter is working on a disappearing formula but it isnt quite ready before Sterling drinks it. Instead of turning him invisible, the formula turns him into a pigeon, requiring Walter to accompany him when he goes after the assassin who took his face and has ruined his reputation.

This movie was actually inspired by an animated short called Pigeon: Impossible, but Lucas Martell's adaptation for this full length animation is about as predictable as they come, bearing more than a passing resemblance to the recent Onward, where two people who are practically strangers must completely depend on each other to get what they want. In fact, Holland provides the voice for the geeky character in both movies, which really doesn't help to distinguish one movie from the other.

What does work here is the character of Lance Sterling and Will Smith's terrific work in voicing the character. His initial arrogance is played for laughs and is definitely nothing new for Smith, but what is fun is watching Lance adjust to life as a pigeon and realizing that he can't do all the things he did as a human. I loved near the beginning of the movie when he dispatches a villain with a lethal karate chop and tries it later with his tiny little pigeon wing and realizes it doesn't have the same effect. It also helps that the animated Lance Sterling bears more than a passing resemblance to Will Smith.

Outside of Lance/Smith, this story is rambling and confusing...when the story opens, we find Sterling dealing with the Yakuza, but when the real villain who stole his face appears, he sounds Australian. The animation is sharp and colorful, but keeping up with everything that's going on becomes exhausting around the halfway point and one might be tempted to check out, but Smith's work here will help keep the viewer invested.