It’s not a stretch to say that Disney and Pixar have the animation market firmly in their grasp, but that doesn’t mean that other studios don’t release great movies in the family animation genre. The fine folks over at 20th Century Fox Animation… wait, they are owned by Disney now too… oh well. Today I’ll be looking at Spies in Disguise – the not Disney but Disney owned animated family comedy movie that is now out on Blu-ray and 4K UHD. I’ll be reviewing the Blu-ray release.
Starring the voices of Will Smith, Tom Holland, and Reba McEntire, Spies in Disguise follows Lance, the world’s greatest secret agent as he hunts down a mysterious bad guy with a robotic arm who has stolen Lance’s likeness and is plotting world domination with the help of an army of drones and the identities of the world’s spies. (I know, this story has been told one too many times, but don’t disregard this movie yet, it has more to offer).
Lance is your typical do-everyone-oneself type of secret agent, so when he is disavowed and hunted by his own agency, he is quick to seek the help of Walter – the agencies resident child genius who is know a young adult leading their research department with a wide range of zany gadgets that he hopes will save the world without the violence.
But Lance is just not one to listen to anyone, and in failing to do so to Walter, he inadvertently drinks a glass of mystery liquid that transforms him into a talking pigeon. And this is where things get interesting…
With the help of a few local pigeons and Walters inventory of inventions, Lance is forced to partner up – against his will, that is – to save the world and clear his name.
The premise is certainly nothing new, but the studio that created Scrat from Ice Age certainly found some gold here nonetheless. This movie is very much less about the plot and more about the journey and the humor, and it does a superb job. Additionally, it stands up to the task of providing a moral to the story for children viewers, and I believe that it does so in an entertaining and fun way. That lesson being that you should always be humble and accept help – everyone needs help sometime. Now I just wish my four year old would let that one sink in; we shall see.
The humor was pretty spot on, too. While the action and plot make this movie generally a bit more skewed to the older children, the humor is very much on par with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and there’s some other similarities with this particular movie as well. Besides the parallel of a young man who is scientifically inclined who invents various ridiculous devices to save the day, there are also several character design choices that look very much familiar. I’m not saying they are re-skinning character models from previous shows or anything…. but it might be what they are doing. Not that that matters of course, just something funny that I noticed.
Overall, Spies in Disguise was way better than it had any right to be. The story was as predictable and unsurprising as could be, but the utter craziness that gets (literally) glittered on top truly make this one worthy of a watch.
Spies in Disguise is a visually exciting film, with some of the most bright and interesting color palettes that I’ve seen on the format. I’m a bit bummed that we didn’t get a 4K UHD copy in to review, but this Blu-ray looked absolutely fantastic on screen. CGI animated movies these days are pretty much all top tier quality, and Spies in Disguise is nothing less.
The DTS Master Audio 7.1 channel surround track gets a ton of use in this movie, with the back channels pretty consistently being used to effect. There was a lot of exciting scenes and a lot of action that used the sound space wisely. This was a real fun one to listen to.
This Blu-ray release comes in a standard blue case with a slipcover, and Blu-ray, DVD and digital copies of the film. There are also a handful of special features:
- Infiltrating Blue Sky Studios
- The Top Secret Guide to Gadgets
- “Then There Were Two” Music Video
- “Freak of Nature” Music Video
- Making the Soundtrack “Then There Were Two”
- Color Keys and Moment Paintings
- Character Designs
- Props and Gadgets Concept Art
- Theatrical Trailer
Our Recommendation for Spies in Disguise:
While technically this is now a Disney property too, it is nice to see studios other than Disney or Pixar releasing animated films. Spies in Disguise is hilarious at times and far from the flat, rote thing that it could have been. With great picture and audio quality, and it’s utterly ridiculous humor, I certainly recommend this one.