Spies Like Us may have been intended as a throwback to the Hope/Crosby pictures of the 40’s-50’s, but viewing it from today’s perspective, the blueprint for the Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson pairing looks to have been outlined here. Chase and Vaughn are both tall, unconventionally handsome, and quick-witted enough to get away with saying inflammatory things while wearing a friendly smile. Aykroyd and Wilson are floppy haired, quietly intellectual with boyish charm and naive sensibilities. It’s easy to imagine the Chase/Aykroyd duo headlining Wedding Crashers circa 1985, and Vaughn/Wilson appearing in a similarly themed project today.
Austin Millbarge (Dan Aykroyd) is a bookish, codebreaker for The Pentagon. His unglamorous basement workspace is an overt sign of the dis-respect he’s shown by his superior officers. Millbarge daydreams of field assignments that will bring a level of excitement to his boring daily routine.
Emmett Fitz-Hume (Chevy Chase), is the son of a former special agent. Since he feels that he has ‘legacy’ rights to the department, Emmett purposely doesn’t study for the government entry exam. This leads to a testroom meeting between Emmett and Millbarge, both expelled for cheating on the proctored questionnaire. Luckily for the wanna-be agents, a shadow Intelligence operation needs two men to act as decoys for a ‘real’ team on a mission into Soviet controlled Asia.
Spies Like Us is amusing in its first half, but once the main characters embark on their assignment, the movie runs out of laughs. The film has been directed with no grace by noted veteran comedic filmmaker John Landis. There is a noticeable lack of energy from Chase and Aykroyd, and from the film itself, which gets bogged down in its ridiculous plotting involving a Soviet missile. Of the three movies Chase released in 1985 (Fletch, European Vacation, Spies Like Us) this is the least entertaining, but was the biggest success at the box-office. There is no accounting for taste.
Director: John Landis
Stars: Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Forrest