General Review: Spies in Disguise

Hello, Spongey here.

Merry Christmas! It’s not often I do post on the day itself but you can thank Blue Sky. Movies often come around this time but usually only on the week of Christmas, not the exact today. But this year that changes. It is weird to be sitting there when I could be spending more time with family but reviewing films comes first.

I’m kidding, of course, I was able to schedule things right. Anyway, this is the last animated film of the year and the 2010’s decade. It’s been a wild time for animation so it fits a film that has a premise like this closes us off.

This is actually loosely based on a 2009 short called Pigeon Impossible, which I haven’t seen and am too lazy to look into but I’m sure it’s fine. Full film based on shorts don’t always turn out well but this shows promise.

The two directors have this as their first film, having only directed a Smurfs Christmas Carol before, and working as storyboard artists on other Blue Sky movies like Ferdinand. One of the writers has none little of note and the other has credits on the Yogi Bear movie and a few episodes of Arrested Development.

Can Blue Sky turn this premiere into a fun spy romp? Will it end the decade on a strong note? Let’s see.

This, is Spies in Disguise

The world is counting on the highly famous super spy Lance Sterling to protect it from grave threats, who in turn often counts on the technical smarts of young scientist Walter Beckett to fashion great gadgets to accomplish his missions in spite of himself. However, when Beckett attempts to introduce his newest invention of “biodynamic concealment”, Sterling accidentally ingests Beckett’s experimental work and transforms into a pigeon. He must now find out how he can save the world from a cybernetic madman while being such a small animal.

This movie was good. It was more enjoyable than I expected and it was a pretty fun spy adventure. It doesn’t totally shed the trappings a lot of animated family films fall into but it is another solid Blue Sky effort that I enjoyed a fair bit.

My main problem is that it beats you over the head with some of what it does, like the opening with Walter’s Mom, or how Lance early on says he “flies solo” Subtle. It also goes a bit overboard with stating the teamwork theme that we’ve seen a lot. Also, Karen Gillan is wasted as Eyes.

Despite some of that, it’s solid. While it is a typical dynamic, Tom Holland and Will Smith work well off each other. Walter is a typical overlooked loser but there’s some nice stuff with how he enforces the theme. Lance is basically just Will Smith and some may find his Smith-isms annoying but for the most part, he was in charming mode. I was worried him sniping at Walter would make him unlikable but they managed to make it funny with just how done with him he can be.

The villain at first seems generic but he’s actually pretty threatening as they take him seriously and don’t play him for laughs. The animators and Ben Mendlson learn into how evil he is and he actually does have a motivation that ties into the themes. Even if he is like an updated Dr. Claw.

As to be expected, Blue Sky delivers some great animation. There’s some stylish lighting, which you know I love and they have a lot of fun with the character animation. They take full advantage of this being animated and go all out with the action scenes. The direction is actually quite good and at times a cut above some live action spy movies at times.

That generally is the highlight, as the spy action is done well and makes the film enjoyable. It mostly doesn’t try to be more than what it is, which is why it not being that deep isn’t as much of a problem as it can be with some movies. But this actually does have an extra theme that does elevate.

That being that killing people is wrong, and that this spy agency is no better than the villains with how liberally they are willingly to get rid of bad guys. Not that “killing is wrong/’ is a totally new theme but a family friendly spy movie usually would skip over the harsher aspects of this kind of thing so it was refreshing to see it addressed it here.

You actually do see Lance’s reason for thinking its okay, since they are simply “hitting back” at the bad guys and that he thinks more spies will be lost if they don’t do whatever it tales, which was nice. But in the end they learn that it’s better to find more creative ways to take them down and as a bit too ideal as it is, it’s a lesson that honestly more adults could learn.

It’s cool that even a spy pigeon movie like this can offer something a tad deeper in places. They do take advantage of the pigeon thing by the way, there’s even a flock Lance attracts that leads to some laughs. The humor can be hit or miss but enough hit to make up for a few gross out gags.

Overall, Spies in Disguise has some clunky moments here and there and isn’t my favorite Blue Sky movie, but manages to be a fun spy movie with great animation, likable leads and a decent theme that was interesting to see. It does sometimes play out like a typical spy movie but once it settles is, it has some fun with it and is a solid movie.

It’s one to check out if you need something to take the family to this holiday season. Just about the size of, I enjoyed it and I’d say it’s worth a movie and ends this decade in animation on a good note.

Rating: Good

Man, was that what I needed after how mixed Star Wars was. You can go if you don’t want my recap of the year in animation, I don’t know what my first 2020 general review will be, we’ll see.

So, 2019 for animated features was…okay. It started off surprisingly strong, with ;Lego 2, Dragon 3 and later Toy Story 4 but after that it dropped off. A good chunk of the movies were merely fine, like Adams Family or even Angry Birds 2. Not to mention the lesser movies like Arctic Dogs. Nothing too bad for the most but it did take a dive latter on, for the most part. Also, too many sequels.

Still, it wasn’t the worst, it’s a cut above the lesser years but was not the strongest. At least it ended well. I won’t go over the decade overall but it was pretty wild and I hope the 2020’s has even more gems in store. Now the 2019 offerings, including some direct to video stuff. I didn’t bold the titles cuz WordPress is dumb and I’m lazy.

Norm of the North 2: I won’t get worked up over this one since it’s direct to video but it’s still two bad and messy movies for the price of one.

Norm of the North 3: The best of the three but still pretty mediocre.

Arctic Dogs: Bleh

Playmobil the Movie: Meh

Uglydolls: Some of the songs slap but overall it’s just messy and not very interesting.

The Secret Life of Pets 2: A bit more fun than the first in places but the story is just a bunch of Tv episodes strung together.

Wonder Park: Okay, I may like it less if I watched it again but it may be a while before I do. I stand by being fine-ish and the moral stuff is not nearly bad as everyone makes it to be, although the Mom’s fate was kind of insulting.

Angry Birds 2: A bit mixed script wise but it has some great comedy mixed in, and Rachel Bloom.

The Addams Family: It’s safe but the spooky style makes it fun.

Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Just as epic as the title implies.

Abominable: Cute.

Missing Link: Even the weakest Lakia movie is a fun adventure, and Susan is a trans icon.

Spies in Disguise: You are here.

I Lost my Body: A french movie Netflix put on that can be a bit too arts-y fartsy at times but the stuff with the hand is interresting and well animated.

Klaus: I didn’t love it like some did due to some cliches I found tiring but it’s still a good Santa origin story with amazing 2D animation that looks like 3D.

Rocko’s Modern Life Static Cling/Invader Zim Enter the Florus: Two Nick TV “movies’ that got dumped to Netflix but still brought back the shows well, keeping their styles intact. And we got another trans icon with Rachel!

Steven Universe the Movie: Not the best thing to come out of the show but it is quite good, keeping all the heart and amazing music I’ve come to expect, with a great villain.

Frozen II: A lesser sequel that expands the lore well, even if the subplots are weak.

The Lego Movie 2: I’ll go more in these last few in the Best/Worst of 2019, but still impressive with the themes.

Toy Story 4: Still can’t believe they gave us something great with another Toy Story.

How to Train your Dragon 3: Finally, a Dragon movie was not beat by something else. Yep, it’s my favorite and I love it so.

That does it for 2019, now let’s look forward to 2020.

Onward: Looks like a lot of fun, with some chances for deep moments with the dad.

Trolls World Tour: I guess the way to get me hyped for a sequel to a middling animated movie is to add Rachel Bloom, okay!

Scoob!: The art style looks nice, and the Easter Eggs are already looking fun. Not a fan of the new cast though.

SpongeBob Movie 3: I dig the art style but I fear the story will be just a rehash of the other movies. Not to mention the Kamp Koral stuff but I can look past that if the movie is good.

Soul: A great concept that should hopefully be awesome.

Minions the Rise of Gru: Eh, at least we’ll have Young Gru.

Bob’s Burger: It’ll still on so hopefully it’s good like the show is.

Raya and the last dragon: Better be great.

The Croods 2; Oh yeah, this is a thing. Hope it’s good.

Okay, hope 2020 is good. That finally ends this post.

See ya.

About Spongey444

I'm 25 and I mostly spend my time watching TV and movies, hence why I ended doing a blog all about those things. I tend to have weird tastes, but I like think I'm just fair on things. Actually nah, I have bad tastes.
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2 Responses to General Review: Spies in Disguise

  1. Pingback: 20+ Spies in Disguise Reviews – 20th Century Fox Top Ad Spend – Movies, Movies, Movies

  2. Pingback: Spongey444-General Review: Spies in Disguise | Red Ribbon Reviewers

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