Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Spies Like Us - 1985

"Spies Like Us" - 1985
Dir. by John Landis - 1 hr. 42 min.

by Clayton Hollifield

It's impossible for me to give a fair review of "Spies Like Us"; this was one of my favorite movies growing up.  So even though I'll try my hardest to present a decent look at it, ultimately I've already watched this movie dozens of times, and I'll probably end up watching it another dozen times before my days are over.  To kick things off, a song:


A pair of CIA wannabes, Emmett Fitz-Hume (Chevy Chase) and Austin Millbarge (Dan Aykroyd) get a last-minute opportunity to take a test that would turn them both from desk jockeys to actual field agents.  Emmett is a classic BS artist (as most Chevy Chase characters are), and Austin is great with machinery and languages, but is languishing in a basement somewhere, doing someone else's work for them.  The test goes poorly (!), but the CIA decide to put Emmett and Austin in the field as decoys, to draw attention away from the actual operatives and operation.  Once they're air-dropped into Pakistan, they make their way to Afghanistan, all in the middle of the Cold War, trying not to get captured or killed along the way.

This film features a pretty prime performance by both Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd.  It's hard to think of a better Chevy Chase movie (maybe one of the first two "Vacation" films?), and Dan Aykroyd excels as the straight man to Chase's insincere motor-mouth character.  It's almost impossible to overstate how much Aykroyd owned this time period; his run from "Blues Brothers" through "Ghostbusters" and "Spies Like Us" is a stretch that most comedians would be envious of.  This duo is enough to justify the film, even if it's a little like "Stripes," minus any Bill Murray pep talks.  The story is good enough - it's a series of settings in which Chase and Aykroyd get to ply their craft, and is no more or less complicated than it needs to be.

One word scene.

So what's the downside to "Spies Like Us?"  Is there a downside to "Spies Like Us?"  Not really.  Yeah, it's an '80s comedy, and plays like one, but it's one of the better examples that kind of film.  You might not be partial to Chevy Chase, but this is one of his best roles.  And if you don't like Dan Aykroyd, you should probably go ahead and kick yourself in the crotch.  Get help if you need, but definitely get that done.  There are a number of great (!) scenes, like the doctor scene, or the test-taking scene, and everything moves pretty quickly aside from that.  There aren't any lulls in the movie, just set-ups and pay-offs, and it works well.

Like I said before, I've seen this film a ton of times, and I'll surely watch it another ton of times.  While all the other kids were watching Disney films, this is exactly what I grew up on.  It's cinematic comfort food.  I completely accept that your mileage might vary, but I'll probably judge you harshly if you disagree with me.  So let's just leave it at that.  I like "Spies Like Us."  You might too.  I hope you do, so that I don't have to dislike you.

3.5 / 5 - Blu-Ray

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