a critiQal film review Spies Like Us (1985)

  • DVD

Plot: A pair of naive guys, Emmett Fitz-Hume (Chase) and Austin Milbarge (Aykroyd), with aspirations to become government spies, have their wish come true only to find out that they're being used as decoys for a real spy team.

Reviewed
510 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 33s)

Ah, the fun of NetFlix® instant queue! Scrolling through our multitude of choices, we stumbled across a movie we hadn’t seen since the 80’s: Spies Like Us. With Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd teaming up at the height of their comedic success, how could this go wrong? But, could the laughter still be found years later? Or has this gem faded with the passage of time?

Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd lead the pack in Spies Like Us and prove to be an eclectic odd couple on-screen. Chevy is still in his Fletch (1985) person. He portrays a stumbling goofiness that, despite the many pitfalls that await, never manage to catch, nay, even damage, the character he plays. Dan Aykroyd, on the other hand, seems to be more in his Sneakers (1992) persona, providing the analytical – yet brainless – straight man to Chevy’s goofball.

Together, the two of them stumble their way through the film with style, their characters barely getting through the many barriers along the way, and endearing themselves to the viewers like clumsy but lovable uncles. Despite their flaws – of which there are many – the two of them manage to make silly mischief downright comical, and are what many comics today aim for but never achieve. True, their oafishness did wear thin, but it’s in all it’s glory in Spies Like Us and makes the movie enjoyable even today.

With so much of the focus on Chevy and Dan, it seems the filmmakers left a lot of the rest along the wayside, including other memorable characters. Along the stumbling route that Dan and Chevy find themselves on, they bumble their way into Bruce Davison, Steve Forrest and Donna Dixon among others. Sadly, none of the supporting cast really does much but present momentary sidetracks to the film. With the viewer waiting to see what Chevy and Dan are going to do next, the rest of the cast becomes just mere background noise (and in Dixon’s case, some googly eyes) and nothing else.

Of course, the storyline itself is absolutely ridiculous. It just provides a setup for these dolts to traipse across a foreign land, stumbling into trouble wherever they go. A plot involving a World War III initiative is mixed in along the way. But, with the Cold War era behind us, it loses quite a bit of the tension it most likely had when it was released. Today it just dissolves into the background with the rest.

With the oddly dynamic duo of Chevy Chase’s Fletch (1985) character and Dan Akyroyd’s Sneakers (1992) character, Spies Like Us still provides laughs today. Viewers will still get a kick at how these oafs bumble their way into situations – and even more so how they manage to escape either unscathed or even better off than they were. There are still times when viewers like to laugh at the characters, rather than with them. Spies Like Us still gives us a chance to do that – even if the laughs are a bit hollower these days.

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