In the kind of movie “My Spy” is, comedy is derived from fish-out-of-water scenarios. The flailing fish here is the burly, physically adept C.I.A. field agent JJ (Dave Bautista), who is demoted and left gallivanting around the schoolyard with the 9-year-old girl, Sophie (Chloe Coleman). The plan is to nab Sophie’s nefarious uncle, Marquez (Greg Bryk), who is on the brink of selling nuclear weapons plans to another terrorist. There are pratfalls and dodge ball along the way.
The film, streaming on Amazon Prime and directed by Peter Segal, seems like a missed opportunity for much of its running time. A better movie would have taken its familiar premise, of a nearly-incompetent spy who’s shown how to get the job done by his prepubescent pal, and leaned into it. “My Spy” could have used its espionage elements to channel a contemporary genre take on “Paper Moon,” with Coleman as a spiritual relative of Tatum O’Neal. An amusing montage shows how effective Coleman is at punching above her weight class. But Bautista, rather charmless, is no Ryan O’Neal.
Instead, “My Spy” meanders, uncertain of its audience: It has too much violence and language for family viewing, but doesn’t commit enough to the danger of spy thrillers to stir the Bond and Bourne lovers among us. In the end, it doesn’t know which mission it chooses to accept.
Rated PG-13 for violence and language. Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes. Watch on Amazon Prime Video.