February 20, 2013

Junior High Spy (2012)

PUT OFF BY the high-quality entertainment and production value of Spy Kids and Agent Cody Banks? Have we got a movie for YOU!

Junior high student Ricky (Christopher Lazlo) is a budding secret agent in training, thanks to the support of his FBI father, Richard (Harry Edison). But when his dad is kidnapped by Very Bad Men and the FBI’s leads dry up, Ricky enlists the help of his whiz-kid friend Jack (Matthew Downs) to help him track down the bad guys and bring his dad home.

Despite the fact that Junior High Spy is centered around the American-based FBI, the film is obviously a Canadian production – from the unmistakable accent (they talk aboot Ricky’s dad being held hostage in a big hoose, eh?) to the maple leaf flag displayed on the speedboat where the bad guys knock Ricky out and abduct his dad.

This is obviously an independent feature with a limited budget, but the filmmakers should’ve squeezed out a few extra bucks for acting lessons. The kid actors’ wooden, unconvincing performances are fittingly on par with a junior high play, and the adult actors aren’t much better.

The script by Barry Cowan is solid – it’s the execution that comes up short. Flat delivery of lines, uneven pacing, odd editing, and long stretches where nothing happens to advance the story or character development. And despite an abundance of FBI agents and Very Bad Men, not one gun in sight. (Oh, those polite Canadians and their wacky gun control laws!)

Even at just 87 minutes, Junior High Spy is stuffed with gobs of filler – mostly consisting of Ricky patrolling the mansion grounds on his ATV or cheesecake footage of teenager Kate (Jessica Ducharme) strolling the hillsides in a bikini top and short-shorts. In addition, the musical score consists of exactly four themes, repeated ad nauseum: there’s Main Titles Theme, Investigation Theme, Suspense Theme, and Action Theme.

Halfway through Junior High Spy, FilmBoy and I started talking back to the screen at all the ridiculousness. The stiff performances, the “oh no, not again” recurrence of the film’s limited soundtrack, the unconvincing fight scenes…they all provided fodder for us to make goofy comments and turn the experience from brutally painful to barely tolerable.

Released by independent studio Skylight Films and distributed by Inception Media Group, Junior High Spy eventually reaches its happy ending, but leaves the door open for a sequel. One can only hope!*

*That it never happens.

aka Ricky Lazio Jr., FBI.
Normally a movie like this would rate 1 star,
but for unintentional entertainment value, it gets:

What did FilmBoy think?
“Okay. It was good. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen.” The repetition of the same four soundtrack themes did start to get on his nerves. He also thought it was hysterical the way the Canadian cast says “house” (“hoose”); the fact that it’s said repeatedly by Ricky only made it funnier.

Is it suitable for your kids?
Language: Mentions of “butt,” “dummy,” and “perv.”
Violence: There are several fight scenes, mostly involving martial arts. No bloodshed or deaths.
Adult situations: Kate is seen in various skimpy clothing and bikinis; Ricky shares a kiss with Kate’s younger sister, Kylie (Mikayla Ottonello). The antics of 12-year-old Jack are sometimes uncomfortable: He describes Kate as “definitely hot,” comments on her “heavenly body,” literally pants over her in one scene, and tries to sneak a glass of wine at a swank party at the mansion. There’s brief mention of the bad guys being involved in “smuggling,” though it’s never made clear exactly what they’re smuggling.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Can’t think of one reason why she would.

Let's go to work.
(While being mindful of child labor laws.)

Junior High Spy
* Directors: Mark McNabb, Kelly Rae Irwin
* Screenwriter: Barry Cowan
* Stars: Christopher Fazio, Mikayla Ottonello, Matthew Downs, Harry Edison, Dorothy Downs, Jessica Ducharme
* MPAA Rating: N/A

Rent Junior High Spy from Netflix >>

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