Spies in Disguise

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Spies in Disguise
Spies in Disguise Final Poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
  • Troy Quane
  • Nick Bruno
Screenplay by
Story byCindy Davis[1]
Based onPigeon: Impossible
by Lucas Martell
Produced by
Starring
Edited by
  • Randy Trager
  • Christopher Campbell[2]
Music byTheodore Shapiro[3]
Production
companies
Distributed by20th Century Fox[6]
Release date
  • December 4, 2019 (2019-12-04) (El Capitan Theatre)
  • December 25, 2019 (2019-12-25) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes[7]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$100 million[8]
Box office$171.6 million[6]

Spies in Disguise is a 2019 American computer-animated spy comedy film produced by Blue Sky Studios and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Loosely inspired by the 2009 animated short Pigeon: Impossible by Lucas Martell, the film is directed by Troy Quane and Nick Bruno from a screenplay by Brad Copeland and Lloyd Taylor, and a story by Cindy Davis. It stars the voices of Will Smith and Tom Holland, alongside Rashida Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Reba McEntire, Rachel Brosnahan, Karen Gillan, DJ Khaled, and Masi Oka in supporting roles. The plot follows a secret agent (Smith) who is accidentally transformed into a pigeon by an intelligent young scientist (Holland); the two must then work together to stop a revenge-seeking cybernetic terrorist, and return the agent to his human form.

The film premiered at the El Capitan Theatre on December 4, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on December 25, 2019 and received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the animation, music, humor, and vocal performances (particularly Smith and Holland). It grossed $171.6 million on a budget of $100 million.

It was the final film released by Blue Sky Studios before being closed on April 7, 2021.[9] It was also the only Blue Sky Studios film to be released after the Disney acquisition.

Plot[edit]

Lance Sterling, a cocky secret agent of H.T.U.V. (Honor, Trust, Unity and Valor), is sent to recover an attack drone from Japanese arms dealer Katsu Kimura in Japan. As soon as the buyer, cybernetically enhanced terrorist Killian (referred to only as "Robo-Hand" in the film), arrives, Sterling breaks in against the orders of H.T.U.V. director Joy Jenkins, defeats Kimura and his gang, and manages to escape with the briefcase containing the drone. Sterling returns to H.T.U.V. headquarters to confront Walter Beckett, a socially inept MIT graduate and outcast young scientist, for equipping nonlethal weapons into his suit. Walter tries to convince Sterling that there is a more peaceful way to save the world but Sterling fires him before he can explain his latest invention: "biodynamic concealment".

Sterling discovers the briefcase to be empty and is confronted by Marcy Kappel, an internal affairs agent, who reveals footage of Sterling (actually Killian in a holographic disguise) leaving with the drone, labeling him as a traitor. Sterling escapes the H.T.U.V. and decides to track down Walter to help him disappear. Meanwhile, Killian breaks into the H.T.U.V. covert weapons facility.

While searching Walter's home for his invention, Sterling ingests the concoction and transforms into a pigeon by undergoing "chromothripsis". Before Walter and Sterling can decide what to do next, Marcy and other H.T.U.V. agents chase the duo through the city, but the duo escape in Sterling's spy car. The two track down Kimura at a resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. There, they learn of Killian's whereabouts in Venice, Italy before Marcy and the H.T.U.V. can capture them again. On their way to Venice, Walter attempts to make the antidote, but fails.

Arriving in Venice, Walter is confronted by the H.T.U.V., who are unaware of Sterling's condition. Revealing that she knows about Wendy, Walter's mother who was a police officer who died on duty, Marcy tries to convince him to help turn Sterling in, but Walter refuses. Suddenly, a drone distracts the H.T.U.V. and allows Walter and Sterling to escape. The two discover the drone carrying the H.T.U.V. agent database, and Walter manages to retrieve it. However, Killian shows up, takes the database, and prepares to kill Walter. With help from hundreds of pigeons in the surrounding area, they distract Killian and flee. Disguised as Sterling once more, Killian escapes the H.T.U.V., shaking Marcy's suspicions of Sterling upon her seeing him with a robot hand.

Whilst underwater in a submarine, Walter reveals he planted a tracking device on Killian and locates him at the weapons facility. Walter manages to perfect the antidote and successfully turns Sterling human again. Reaching Killian's hideout, Sterling is concerned about Walter's safety and sends him away in the submarine. Once inside, Sterling confronts Killian, but is knocked out and captured as Killian reveals he has mass-produced hundreds of drones to target everyone at the agency using the database as revenge for killing his crew in a past mission led by Sterling. Noticing Walter returning in the submarine, Killian destroys it; unbeknownst to them, Walter survives with the help of one of his inventions, the inflatable hug.

Once Walter frees Sterling, the two escape and contact Marcy for support as the drones approach H.T.U.V. headquarters in Washington D.C. Walter attempts to hack into Killian's bionic arm but when Killian realizes this, he tries to flee via air with a drone, but Walter catches up. Walter risks his life by trapping Killian in the inflatable hug and deactivates the villain's arm as Walter himself falls, but Sterling, who has turned himself back into a pigeon, successfully flies for the first time and carries him to safety with help from other pigeons, while Killian is found and arrested.

Despite saving the world, Sterling —back in his human form— and Walter are fired for disobedience. However, they are quickly rehired by the H.T.U.V. as the agency could learn from Walter's more peaceful ways of handling villainy.

Voice cast[edit]

  • Will Smith as Lance Sterling, "the world's most awesome spy," who is transformed into a pigeon by Walter.[10]
  • Tom Holland as Walter Beckett, a socially inept scientific genius who graduated from MIT at age 15 and designs gadgets. He turns Sterling into a pigeon with a new invention of his. But must now help Sterling change back to his human form.
    • Jarrett Bruno voices a young Walter in the film's opening scene.
  • Ben Mendelsohn as Killian, a powerful technology-based terrorist mastermind with a left bionic arm that controls an array of weaponized drones that threatens the world. Killian is Sterling's arch-enemy and his main mission objective.
  • Rashida Jones as Marcy Kappel, a security forces agent of internal affairs in pursuit of Lance Sterling, who she believes is a traitor.
  • Reba McEntire as Joy Jenkins, the director of H.T.U.V. (short for Honor, Trust, Unity and Valor) and Sterling's superior.[11]
  • Rachel Brosnahan as Wendy Beckett, a police officer, and Walter's mother.[11]
  • Karen Gillan as Eyes, an H.T.U.V. specialist in spectral analysis and quantum optical thermography who is paired with Ears.[12]
  • DJ Khaled as Ears, an H.T.U.V. specialist in communications and ultrasonics who is paired with Eyes.[12]
  • Masi Oka as Katsu Kimura, a Japanese arms dealer and an associate to Killian.
  • Carla Jimenez as Geraldine,[13] the security agent at H.T.U.V.

Olly Murs makes an uncredited vocal cameo as a Junior Agent,[14] while Mark Ronson voices an Agency Control Room Technician. The voice of Lance’s car, an Audi RSQ e-tron, is provided by Kimberly Brooks.

South Korean voice actors So Youn [ko] and Jang Min-hyuk provided the voices of Soo-min and Joon respectively, the protagonists in a South Korean television drama Walter is a fan of in the film. Jang also voiced Lance Sterling in the Korean version.[citation needed]

Production[edit]

Director Troy Quane at the 2019 Annecy International Animation Festival

On October 9, 2017, it was announced that development was underway on a film based on the animated short Pigeon: Impossible (2009), with Will Smith and Tom Holland set to voice the lead characters.[15]

In October 2018, new additions to the voice cast included Ben Mendelsohn, Karen Gillan, Rashida Jones, DJ Khaled and Masi Oka.[16] In July 2019, Reba McEntire and Rachel Brosnahan joined the cast,[11] and in September 2019, Carla Jimenez was added as well.[13]

The film is the directorial debut of Nick Bruno, and the second for Troy Quane, after having directed the short film The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol (2011).[17][18]

Music[edit]

Score[edit]

On June 12, 2018, it was reported that Theodore Shapiro was set to compose the film's score.[3] The film's score album was released by Hollywood Records and Fox Music on December 27, 2019.

EP soundtrack[edit]

Mark Ronson Presents the Music of Spies in Disguise
EP and soundtrack album by
various artists
ReleasedDecember 13, 2019 (2019-12-13)
LabelRCA Records
Singles from Mark Ronson Presents the Music of Spies in Disguise
  1. "Then There Were Two"
    Released: November 22, 2019
  2. "Fly"
    Released: December 2, 2019

On June 11, 2019, it was announced that Mark Ronson would be the film's executive music producer.[19] Head of Fox Music Danielle Diego expressed excitement at working with Ronson, stating that "his unique blend of vintage soul and funk exceptionally captures the soul of [the] film."[19] On November 22, 2019, an original song for the film entitled "Then There Were Two," performed by Ronson and Anderson .Paak, was released.[20] Two days later, an extended play album titled Mark Ronson Presents the Music of Spies in Disguise was announced, featuring five new songs written for the film as well as Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's "It Takes Two".[21] The EP was released digitally on December 13, 2019, by RCA Records.[21]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleArtist(s)Length
1."Freak of Nature"Mark Ronson & Dodgr3:27
2."Then There Were Two"Ronson & Anderson Paak2:32
3."Fly"Lucky Daye2:43
4."They Gotta Go"Lil Jon3:18
5."Rocket Fuel"DJ Shadow featuring De La Soul3:14
6."It Takes Two"Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock5:00
Total length:20:14

Release[edit]

The film was originally scheduled for release on January 18, 2019, by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (through their subsidiary 20th Century Fox).[10] The film was delayed to April 19, 2019, and then to September 13, 2019.[22] On May 10, the film was delayed once more, to December 25, 2019.[23]

The film had its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, on December 4, 2019.[24]

Home media[edit]

Spies in Disguise was released in Ultra HD Blu-ray, DVD, Blu-ray and by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on March 10, 2020.[25][26]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

As of 2021, Spies in Disguise has grossed $66.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $104.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $171.6 million.[6][27][28]

In the United States and Canada, the film was released on Wednesday, December 25, alongside Little Women and the wide expansion of Uncut Gems, and was projected to gross $19–23 million from 3,502 theatres over its five-day opening weekend.[29] The film made $4.8 million on Christmas Day and $4.1 million on its second day.[30] It went on to make $13.2 million during its opening weekend, for a total of $22.1 million over the five-day Christmas period, finishing fifth.[31][8] In its second weekend the film made $10.1 million, finishing sixth.[32] In its third weekend, it grossed $5.1 million, dropping 50.9% from the previous weekend and finishing at 10th place.[33]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 76% based on 123 reviews and an average rating of 6.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A cheerfully undemanding animated adventure that's elevated by its voice cast, Spies in Disguise is funny, fast-paced, and family-friendly enough to satisfy."[34] Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 54 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[35] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while those surveyed by PostTrak gave it an average 3.5 out of 5 stars.[31]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film three out of five stars, calling it an "entertaining family adventure," and praising the vocal work of Smith and Holland.[36]

Kwak Yeon-soo, a reporter at The Korea Times, wrote that the film failed to convey its message because of its "lackluster narrative". Kwak also pointed out that the film tried to attract audiences there by putting references to the South Korean popular culture, and that it ended up exemplifying Walter Beckett's "weird" personality.[37]

Accolades[edit]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
Golden Reel Awards January 19, 2020 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Animation Leff Lefferts, Jeremy Bowker, Randy Thom, Bjorn Ole Schroeder, Samson Neslund, David Farmer, Michael Silvers, Larry Oatfield, Chris Manning, Shelley Roden, John Roesch Nominated [38]
Annie Awards January 25, 2020 Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in an Animated Feature Production José Manuel Fernández Oli Nominated [39]
Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production Mark Ronson, Theodore Shapiro Nominated
Saturn Awards 2021 Best Animated Film Spies in Disguise Pending [40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Denali Publishing Announces Spies in Disguise: Agents on the Run" (Press release). November 13, 2019. Archived from the original on November 13, 2019. Retrieved November 13, 2019 – via Gamasutra.
  2. ^ "Spies in Disguise reviews". The Hollywood Reporter. December 16, 2019. Archived from the original on December 16, 2019. Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Theodore Shapiro to Score Blue Sky Studios' 'Spies in Disguise' & Karyn Kusama's 'Destroyer'". Film Music Reporter. June 12, 2018. Archived from the original on October 29, 2018. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Film releases". Variety Insight. Archived from the original on October 13, 2018. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Vary, Adam B. (January 17, 2020). "Disney and Chernin Entertainment Parting Ways". Variety. Archived from the original on January 18, 2020. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
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  7. ^ "Spies in Disguise". British Board of Film Classification. Archived from the original on December 25, 2019. Retrieved January 11, 2020.
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  13. ^ a b Sun, Rebecca (September 9, 2019). "Rep Sheet Roundup: CAA China Signs Matt William Knowles". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 11, 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
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  20. ^ Heath, Paul (November 22, 2019). "Music Video For Mark Ronson & Anderson .Paak's 'Spies In Disguise' Track Drops". Archived from the original on November 24, 2019. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Mark Ronson's Songs from 'Spies in Disguise' to Be Released". Film Music Reporter. November 24, 2019. Archived from the original on November 25, 2019. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  22. ^ Haring, Bruce (June 22, 2018). "20th Century Fox Sets Dates For Untitled James Mangold Ferrari Project, Kenneth Branagh's 'Death On The Nile'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 13, 2018. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
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  27. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (March 1, 2020). "Harrison Ford's 'Call of the Wild' to Lose $50 Million at Box Office". Variety. Retrieved April 21, 2021. ...and the animated “Spies in Disguise” were also theatrical disappointments.
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  33. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 12, 2020). "'1917' Strong With $36M+, But 'Like A Boss' & 'Just Mercy' Fighting Over 4th With $10M; Why Kristen Stewart's 'Underwater' Went Kerplunk With $7M". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 12, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
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  36. ^ "Movie Review: Spies in Disguise – Will Smith brings pecks appeal to animated caper". The Guardian. December 16, 2019. Archived from the original on December 16, 2019. Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  37. ^ Kwak, Yeon-soo (January 7, 2020). "'Spies in Disguise' tries too hard to attract Korean moviegoers". The Korea Times. Hankook Ilbo. Archived from the original on February 3, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
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  40. ^ "Saturn Awards Nominations 2021". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 7, 2021. Retrieved March 15, 2021.

External links[edit]