On The Couch #25: Spies Like Us

How have I never seen Spies Like Us? I don’t know. I love comedies. I like John Landis. I like Chevy Chase. I like Dan Akroyd. I was the right age to see this in the movie theater or at home on VHS. It doesn’t make sense.

Watching Spies Like Us for the first time 25 years after it was made has its downsides. Not all of the jokes age well. Take the Bob Hope cameo. Bob Hope pops in randomly, hits a golf ball, makes a quip and exits just as quickly. John Landis was obviously very excited about this; Bob Hope is the only person in the credits who has an exclamation point after his name. Unfortunately, living in a world where Bob Hope isn’t hitting around golf balls anymore caused this bit to fall flat for me.

I wonder if this how people are going to feel about Neil Patrick Harris’s cameo in Harold and Kumar 25 years from now. This also assumes people are still watching Harold and Kumar 25 years from now.

Two cameos that really excited me were the B.B. King and Michael Apted ones, probably because they’re still alive. I didn’t even catch them the first time around. I saw their names in the credits and immediately hunted down their scene. It was great seeing the director of The Up Series documentaries in an acting role, even if it’s just for one line as a creepy CIA guy.

I love these movies. You might too.

It’s amazing how often Spies Like Us is referenced now, 25 years later. It showed up in an episode of Chuck recently, which reminded me I never saw the movie. And the “Doctor.” “Doctor.” bit was used in in the sideways reality of Lost this season. I’ve always found that bit funny; I’ve even quoted that bit, but had no idea where it came from. I always assumed it was something from Monty Python or M*A*S*H* (another classic I’ve never seen…Hmm, I should get around to queueing that up).

“Doctor.”  “Doctor.”

I don’t want this review to sound like I didn’t like the movie. I did, especially the test scene early on and the appendectomy surgery in the desert. The jokes are very 1985, but what else should I have expected from a cold war spy comedy?

If you haven’t seen Spies Like Us, congratulations! You’re officially the last person now that I’ve seen it.