Spies in Disguise (2019): ‘Spy Spoofs and Pigeons’ – A Film Review



The family film genre has been quietly churning out moderately successful, moderately entertaining films for quite some time now. Almost all are bearing the banner of the CGI animated film style. Pixar and DreamWorks are very much leading the genre but there are many more. Spies in Disguise is a film loosely based upon the short: Pigeon: Impossible. However, Spies in Disguise isn’t a remake, it is a feature length story with new characters and many new concepts. Reinventing the standard spy spoof with actors like Will Smith, Tom Holland, Rashida Jones and Ben Mendelsohn giving the film a sense of charm.


Talking to Give Life

These actors are either on the up and up or have long been in the public eye, so much so that it would be difficult to see him fall from grace. Will Smith has managed to keep his career going for quite some time, based upon just that – charm. So the voice talent for this film is both memorable and able to give Spies in Disguise that element of something. Which is something to say, since this is just the run of the mill film. There is the concept but many ideas are recycled from other films, down to the story and character archetypes of the day. We have seen these characters time and time again but at very least the voice actors can hold it all together.


Visuals to Repeat it

On the other side of the coin, the visual effects are a style that we’re very familiar with. There isn’t much to be seen that’s that different or interesting. Some visual ideas around a pigeon’s point of view, but that’s about it. We are able to understand the differences between the characters and follow their fluid motion but that is more or less all it has. Spies in Disguise largely plays it all safe. This isn’t exactly a bad thing for a film that wants to keep it all light, harmful and basic. It just means that there is very little to take away from it, very little to remember. Just that you had some harmless fun for the 102 minutes you were in the cinema for.



The problem is, we’ve seen it all before. There is nothing new with this film, nothing interesting and not a lot to get excited by. We’re just seeing some of our favourite stars lend a voice to some visuals we’ve seen before. The James Bond spoof characters and the technology issues of the day. Despicable Me 2 did some of these things better and it’s in a declining franchise. The prince and the pauper theme has also been done to death. We’ve all seen a character at the top of their game, forced, by magic or technology, to see and experience life in another’s shoes. Perhaps with the help of a new friend they can start to see life anew. Shame the film isn’t doing that itself.



Lance Sterling (Will Smith) is the best spy there is, but when he is implicated by internal affairs he is accidentally turned into a pigeon, where he has to rely on a scientist he scoffed at, Walter Beckett (Tom Holland), to help him save his name.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Despicable Me 2 (d. Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud USA/France/Japan 2013)

Pigeon: Impossible (d. Lucas Martell USA 2009)

Spies in Disguise (d. Nick Bruno, Troy Quane USA 2019)


Further Reading



Official Site

Cast & Director Interviews

Tom Holland Interview

Troy Quane, Masi Oka & Nick Bruno Interview

Behind the Scenes

Becoming a Pigeon

Adult Jokes in Pigeon

Pigeon: Impossible


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This was an analytical review of….


Spies in Disguise (d. Nick Bruno, Troy Quane USA 2019)

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