Given that this was made by the same man who made Trading Places, I was hoping this would at least be a somewhat decent film, but it turns out that the director is only occasionally good at what he does. Spies Like Us is a case of the director and the cast resting on the laurels of their previous successes and assuming that the same approach will consistently work again and again, but the problem here is that the film seems horribly rushed, and there are many ways in which it shows.
It was made in the same time as Rocky IV, during a time where everybody thought Russia was the big bad wolf, and sure enough, much of the clichés of the Cold War are prevalent here, where the producers have flaccidly tried taking them into a comedic context. That’d be alright were it not for the fact that the jokes don’t work at all, either because they’re outdated or because they simply weren’t funny in the first place. That in itself seems somewhat odd when you consider that the main people involved in the film have done better in previous films. For example, Dan Aykroyd was amazing in Trading Places and Ghostbusters, but somehow he can’t make it work in this film. Am I the only one who thinks that’s slightly odd? Then again, it’s hard to take it seriously when you inevitably look at it from a contemporary perspective.
The story is a completely stupid concept, but in a comedy film it should have worked. It revolves around sending two incompetent boobs as proxies on an undefined mission to distract Soviet Russia from a team of capable agents, whose mission is to capture a mobile ICBM launcher. That should have been a funny plot, but it wasn’t very believable, probably not even for its time, and the film does a very poor job at hiding this. As for the acting, there’s quite a lot of overacting, and it’s painfully apparent that nobody who was involved had any semblance of enthusiasm for the film at all.
On the whole, it seems as though the film-makers were cutting corners everywhere, even when it comes to the look of the film. This was made in 1985, and yet it looks as though they used the cameras they used for National Lampoon’s Animal House (which, in case anyone forgot, was a poorly written caricature of American youth). Perhaps that is rather fitting, considering that this is clearly one of those films that nobody wanted, and yet somebody decided that it still had to be made. It seems to suffer a problem that’s common in American comedies – they assume that every little thing should be a joke, and when a joke misses, they try to make up for it by making the next joke louder. Sometimes it works, but most of time, it’s just plain obnoxious. Either way, Spies Like Us was simply awful, both as a comedy film and as a star vehicle.
- Score: 23%
- Grade: E