by Kevin Carr
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|| MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)
Chris Potter as MIKE MUGGINS
Richard Kind as DR. FARLEY
Emma Roberts as AMELIA
Michael Bailey Smith as HUGO
Musetta Vander as DR. AMOUR
Debra Jo Rupp as EDITH
Pat Morita as KIRO
Studio: International Keystone Entertainment
Directed by: Robert Vince
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“Spymate” is your standard children’s movie that throws several basic ingredients together to make a story. One of the ingredients is a cute animal in a human role – in this case a chimpanzee as a secret agent. This type of set-up is no surprise considering Robert Vince is behind the scenes.
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Vince is the man responsible for bringing “Air Bud” – and all of its iterations – to the big and small screen. He also spearheaded a series of humanzee kids movies like “Most Valuable Primate” and “Most Extreme Primate.”
The film tells the story of a super-smart chimp named Minkey who has been a valuable spy for the country for years. However, he and his trainer Mike Muggins (Chris Potter) must retire. This lands Minkey in the circus and Mike home to take care of his daughter Amelia (Emma Roberts).
Not surprisingly, Mike and Minkey are pulled back into the spy game when Amelia is kidnapped by the bumbling, trying-to-be-evil scientist Dr. Farley. Apparently the kid is quite an inventor and has a special laser that Dr. Farley wants. Mike calls Minkey back into service to find his daughter and save the world.
“Spymate” is precisely what you expect it would be. After all, who is going to take a skydiving chimp seriously? The movie is tame in the danger and has some limited amount of cartoonish action. With a target audience of younger children, don’t expect it to be even as perilous as “Agent Cody Banks.”
Your tolerance for “Spymate” is going to be directly related to your tolerance for animal tricks. If you’re one of those people who go to Sea World and think it’s just doggoned adorable for the whales and sea lions to speak and nod to their trainers, then you’ll be able to suspend disbelief for this film. However, if you can’t detach yourself enough from reality and know that these are just behavioral tricks timed to what the trainer says, “Spymate” will get on your nerves fast.
The DVD comes with a single special feature – the behind-the-scenes featurette, which is really nothing special but fun to watch if you liked the film itself.
The movie is much on the entertainment level as Disney’s remake of “The Shaggy Dog.” Yeah, I know there’s no Tim Allen and Richard Kind isn’t quite Robert Downey Jr., but it has the same broad family appeal for younger kids.
The appeal to the film is easily the chimpanzee, who often out-acts his human counterparts. But wasn’t that the same case with the “Air Bud” and “Beethoven” movies?
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French language track. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.