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THE MOVIE GUY — Mild ‘Spy’ fun for your living room.

"My Spy"

STX Films

Directed by Peter Segal

Rated PG-13

 2 ½ Stars

There’s something endearing about pairing a macho movie hero with an adorable kid actor. These types of movies humanize the muscle man and let his fan base know that he’s interested in making films that will appeal to everybody, not just those who like bloody and violent fare.

We’ve seen this happen with everybody from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Vin Diesel, Hulk Hogan and especially Dwayne Johnson. Now it’s time for Dave Bautista to take his shot at expanding his movie fan base with a fun, but mild action comedy called My Spy.

Bautista plays a hard-hitting CIA operative who is demoted for his overly violent ways. He’s teamed up with another operative (Kristen Schaal) and given one last chance in surveillance. The problem is that a nine year old girl named Sophie (Chloe Coleman) discovers the spies hiding next door and blackmails them into letting her join the team.

Coleman is the key here, and she’s the right mix of precocious and annoying in a kid. She’s playing a girl who just wants to make friends at her new school, but one who isn’t above bringing in some hired muscle to make an impression on her fellow classmates.

Bautista is obviously the muscle, and he, too, turns in a pretty good performance of a dispassionate tough guy with a bleeding heart on the inside. Most importantly, he’s willing to suffer the minor indignities in service of bonding with the girl and cracking the case.

The problem is that the case isn’t interesting enough to command so much of the film’s attention. The weapons of mass destruction subplot is the reason why the hero and the kid meet, not the reason for the movie itself. This is supposed to be a cute family comedy, something the filmmakers forget whenever it’s time for the pyrotechnics.

Fortunately Bautista and Coleman have enough great chemistry to smooth over the rough parts of the movie. The juxtaposition of her brains and his brawn provide ample opportunities for humor, and I did find myself laughing at their witty remarks as well as the pratfalls and physical humor aimed at younger viewers.

Kristen Schaal also scores some nice laughs with her so-odd-it-works inclusion in this story. All of which makes My Spy into an enjoyable family comedy that provides warm and fuzzy moments, broad range humor and, yes, even a few thrills on the action side. This is the sort of film that was always designed to play for the home streaming crowd, and while a theatrical release would have been nice, families looking for some new home viewing options should also be pleased with My Spy.

My Spy is available to stream on Amazon Prime on Friday, April 17.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@sbgtv.com.