The Sunday Mail
ALWAYS the groomsman and never the groom.
That seems to be Dave Bautista’s story ever since he made the great leap from the world of professional wrestling to Hollywood.
The 51-year-old surprisingly has an impressive movie profile that has rave reviews ranging from good to absolutely impressive.
Similarly, he has made loads of money on the box office.
But that is about it!
He is not the leading character in any of the movies and rarely stands out.
However, on the contrary, his fellow wrestling alumni Dwayne Johnson and John Cena are fast developing into reputable standalone brands. You can catch them both in Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” and “Fast and Furious 9”, due for release soon.
The latest of Bautista’s ‘invisible’ performances is the 2020 release “My Spy”.
The action-comedy also features Kristen Schaal, Chloe Coleman and Ken Jeong.
The film follows the story of JJ (Bautista), a former US Special Forces soldier newly hired as a CIA operative, and his attempts to try and fit into the new life.
Unfortunately, the only thing JJ is good at is using excessive force, which is alien to the world of espionage.
When one of his ops, as they call it in the business, goes wrong, JJ gets paired up with a tech specialist Bobbi (Schaal).
They are reassigned to Chicago where they are tasked to keep a watchful eye (surveillance) on Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley) and her nine-year-old daughter Sophie (Coleman).
Kate is the widow of a former arms dealer and is believed to be in danger from her deranged brother.
She is also understood to have a nuclear bomb. The assigned agents perform their tasks terribly and end up blowing their cover.
Sophie ends up blackmailing them into teaching her to be a spy.
But “My Spy” is surprisingly a good flick and I think I may have decoded why that is so.
There is a clear attempt by the producers to brush over their weaknesses.
Bautista is the big draw-card in this movie, and that is largely due to his Marvel connections.
However, he lacks the required acting chops to carry a movie on his own, let alone a comedy. It would have been better if they paired him with an extremely talented young actress, Coleman, or two seasoned vets of the genre in the mould of Schaal and Jeong.
The three do a stand-up job in terms of performances. Coleman steals the show as a young outcast with a heart of gold, crying out to be seen and accepted.
She comes off as affable and funny.
Jeong is one of the best supporting acts in the business, and the script best suited Schaal’s strengths. Apart from being extremely funny, Schaal excels at portraying the weird, awkward but loveable characters.
Dave is always out of his depth in the comedy genre, and, to some extent, the acting business. Credit though goes to the writers for tactically ignoring the usual espionage and comic beats, concentrating on the emotional beats of JJ building a bond with the nine-year-old kid.
Both characters are outcasts, misunderstood and want to fit into their new roles and life.
All in all, this is a good family film.