There’s an ongoing trend in which successful W.W.E. wrestlers try to make the switch to film acting. From John Cena to Hulk Hogan, many have tried, and most have failed. However, given the fact that one of the biggest movie stars today, The Rock, started off on the W.W.E., it goes to show that it’s definitely possible to for wrestling stars to switch gears to acting. However, it seems that The Rock will remain the only star who came from wrestling (for the time being), because Dave Bautista’s outing in My Spy does little as a movie or as a vehicle for Bautista’s career.
My Spy stars Dave Bautista as J.J., an ex-soldier turned CIA agent who’s more suited for brute force than any espionage. When assigned to a routine stakeout mission, J.J.’s cover is blown by a 4th grade girl named Sophie, played by Chloe Coleman. While initially forced to perform menial tasks to keep her from revealing his secret, such as taking her ice skating and buying her ice cream, J.J. begins to truly care for Sophie and her family, and ultimately becomes part of that family while learning to open up to others. The script has some focus issues, with not enough time spent on the antagonists of the film, resulting in less tension than there ideally should be. Beyond that however it’s very much your standard family film, predictable but somewhat heartfelt and theoretically entertaining, theoretically because Dave Bautista is unfortunately atrocious in the leading role.
Dave Bautista has had successful roles in acting before. His role in Spectre was a perfectly fine action role, as were his roles in Hotel Artemis and Blade Runner 2049. Bautista’s breakout role as Drax in the Marvel Cinematic Universe showed not only could he be a capable action star, but that he could be genuinely funny and charismatic, so it is understandably baffling how unfunny he is in this film. Bautista is extremely stiff and awkward as the lead, and his delivery ruins several jokes that otherwise might have worked. Except for some physical comedy around the middle of the film, nothing he does or says is particularly funny at all. Combining a mediocre comedy script with an actor not suited for the leading role results in painfully awkward attempts at comedy that make the hour and forty minute runtime feel an eternity long. Beyond bad acting from Bautista, some of the direction may contributed to the jokes falling flat. Certain bits and gags that might’ve worked didn’t because the film cut too quickly from one scene to the next, rather than giving the jokes any time to play out.
While often falling on its face and failing to entertain, My Spy is not without some positives. Many of the other actors in the film give decent enough performances. Kristen Schaal as J.J.’s fangirl sidekick manages to elicit a few laughs throughout the film, and Ken Jeung’s performance as J.J.’s boss, while limited, is perfectly acceptable. A great deal of credit should be given to Chloe Coleman, who is one of the saving graces of the film in the role of Sophie, and it’s impressive to see an actress able to carry an otherwise lackluster film at such a young age. She constantly overshadows Bautista when the two of them are on screen together, which, while showcasing her acting talent, also makes Bautista look all the stiffer.
A few talented supporting actors cannot save My Spy from its cookie-cutter script, below-average direction, and completely miscast lead. Chloe Coleman deserves massive credit and may eventually be cemented as a great child actor, but her efforts were still unable to elevate this film. Younger audiences will probably get the most out of My Spy, but the film paradoxically uses a good deal of swear words throughout, and parents might be averse to letting their children watch it. If parents do decide to let their children watch, they should try to avoid being in the same room the movie’s playing in, lest they be subjected to some of the longest two hours of their lives.