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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Spymate
Spymate
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // PG // April 11, 2006
List Price: $26.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Lacey Worrell | posted May 8, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:
Twelve-year-old Amelia Muggins is a young inventor who idolizes scientists rather than rock stars. When she meets the pretentious Dr. Robert Farley, a famous scientist, she is temporarily awestruck until he decides to kidnap her and take her to Japan on a hydrogen-propelled boat. It is up to her father and Minkey, her father's former spy partner, to rescue her. The only thing is, Minkey is a high-flying chimp!

This film features the late, great, Pat Morita of Karate Kid fame, as a concerned Japanese citizen who is happy to hear that Minkey is on the case. Another terrific aspect of this movie is the fact that Amelia is a science geek who appears to be far less concerned with her appearance than with winning science awards. As Amelia, Emma Roberts is fresh-faced and precocious, turning the character into a nice role model for young girls. Parents of boys should not be scared off by the fact that the protagonist is a girl, as there is plenty of action and adventure in order to keep boys hooked as well.

The plot devices are often greatly exaggerated in order to move the story along and create drama. For instance, in one scene, Minkey hangs onto the rungs of a helicopter that is transporting Amelia to a snowy mountaintop. The idea of a twelve-year-old coming up with complicated inventions is also somewhat over-the-top, but it provides the basis for the plot, so it is necessary. Kids will enjoy seeing Amelia in exciting situations and using her wits to foil Dr. Farley.

Parents should be warned that overall, there are some scenes that might scare kids under the age of 9 or so. In one scene, Amelia touches an electric fence and is thrown to the ground. Scary Dr. Farley threatens to hurt Amelia's father. Then there is the fact that she has been taken from her parent to begin with, which is a fear children have from time to time. The explosions that occur at the beginning of the movie might scare them as well. Although an inevitably happy ending results and most of the action sequences rely upon karate chopping instead of gunplay, parents may want to view this movie before allowing young children to view it.

The DVD

Video:
Spymate is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. As one of the few remaining people on this planet who is not a fan of widescreen, I enjoyed this one, because the film filled more of the vertical part of the screen. The picture is absolutely gorgeous, especially during the Caribbean sequences, where the almost unreal blue of the seawater transfers beautifully to the small screen.

Sound:
Spymate features English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and a French language track, as well as English subtitles. Overall, the sound quality is very good, especially the exciting score that plays during the action sequences.

Extras:
The only included extra is a behind-the-scenes featurette about the making of the film. Budding filmmakers will enjoy the discussion on how the visual effects were achieved, as well as the fact that there were three chimps used in the filming of the movie. Other interesting facts include a discussion of how the chimps' trainers were often placed into actual scenes, the use of Vancouver as a double for the Tokyo scenes, and the challenges of filming on a snowy mountaintop.

Final Thoughts:
Older kids (9 and up) will enjoy this exciting movie. Younger children might be enchanted by the chimp, but find themselves lost by the relatively complicated plot and advanced vocabulary used in the dialogue. Parents will find that this movie is not all that excruciating to sit through and moves along at a steady pace, which is always a bonus.

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