By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

This charming and amusing family film offers an inventive, breath of fresh air to the otherwise old-fashioned genre of espionage thrillers. Based on Lucas Martell’s animated short, Pigeon: Impossible, Spies in Disguise offers family-friendly entertainment with some modern and progressive messages. Actors Will Smith and Tom Holland lend their awesome voice talents and vibrant personalities to the lead characters in this joyfully unique animated movie. The movie probably won’t win any animated film accolades next year, but is definitely worthy of some attention and admiration.

Smith stars as spy extraordinaire Lance Sterling, an agent who usually accomplishes his missions, but often ruffles feathers in the process. It seems that the only way his enemies can defeat him is by framing him for a crime he didn’t commit. When Sterling’s arch-enemy Killian (Ben Mendelsohn) does exactly this, Lance must flee his authorities until he can clear his name. At this point, the only person he can trust is former agency scientist Walter Beckett (Holland). After Lance mistakenly consumes Beckett’s “biodynamic concealment” formula, he is instantly transformed into a pigeon. This certainly further complicates matters as Lance and Walter try to thwart Killian’s further plans.

Written by Brad Copeland and Lloyd Taylor, Spies in Disguise delivers action, thrills, and mostly great humor, making the film the pleasant surprise I was not quite expecting. Full of imagination and heart, the movie should not only prove entertaining to children, but also to the adults escorting them. Granted, more of the jokes and silliness will appeal to the kids, but there is enough humor and excitement to keep adults interested as well. The animated movie has a fantastic voice cast that adds even more charm and wit to the story.

Will Smith is absolutely perfect as Lance Sterling. Not only does he bring the perfect amount of bravado and cockiness to the character, he also does a fantastic job acting out the distress and frustrations of his new metamorphosis. Tom Holland is also perfectly cast as the clumsy, but brilliant scientist Walter Beckett. It is a role closely akin to his take on Peter Parker, But that’s why it works so well. I also enjoyed the villainous, hammy turn by Ben Mendelsohn as Killian. The movie also features great voice work by Rashida Jones, Reba McIntyre, Rachel Brosnahan, Karen Gillan, and D J Khaled.

So, if looking for a fun and highly enjoyable animated family movie to watch during the holiday season, Spies in Disguise is the one to check out. The movie opens in theaters on December 25, 2019.

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