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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Road to Dushanbe

Spies Like Us (1985) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Dept. of State has been losing valuable GLG–20 agents in the vein of a Mishka Ben-David thriller where:
we were assigned jobs in the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union, inter­cepting con­sign­ments of missiles on their way to Iran. This was the route chosen by the Russians to avoid the risk of direct flights or marine ship­ments which could be vetted by the Western powers enforcing sanctions against Iran. Silent sabotage operations, the injection of a chemical agent into the launch mechanisms, had been decided upon as our modus operandi. No one would know or see any­thing until the order was given to fire the missiles when nothing would happen. In each case, we located the convoys, followed them to a spot where they parked for the night, and then stole into one truck after another and dealt with each missile, by removing the cap of its “brain”, inserting the liquid and reassembling it.—

These were relatively lengthy missions, taking a few nights each to neutralize all the missiles in each convoy, and we could only work between patrols of convoy guards. In the day­time we drove some distance away from the convoys using a trans­ponder we'd fixed onto one of the trucks. At night we caught up to them and worked. We were exhausted after the first round on one of the convoys, more so after the second, and the third turned out to be the last.

On out last mission we began in Kazakhstan, continued in Uzbekistan, and wound up in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, close to the Iranian border. After completing the work, and as we were walking away from the convoy towards our vehicle, we were surprised by a Russian officer in a military jeep, who was apparently checking the parked trucks or the guards. We were a few hundred yards away from the convoy, but also a similar distance from our car, and we didn't have any logical pretext for being there. The Russian could see this and he aggressively demanded that we identify our­selves. He got out of his jeep and menacingly placed his hand on the butt of his pistol. (215–16)

performance reportTo avoid losing more GLG–20 agents in the field, State Dept. brass have come up with a plan to deploy two agents as decoys to take the heat off the real operatives. The decoys will be chosen for being the most expendable men they've got.

overwhelming textEmmett Fitz-Hume (Chevy Chase), an information officer at State, is woe­fully unprepared for the upcoming Foreign Service Board written exam that he's flunked three times before. He decides to cheat.

accountant at deskRepair supervisor Austin “Mr. Hands” Mill­barge (Dan Aykroyd,) a gifted code-breaker and language expert with DIA, foresees no difficulty with the exam, but his boss Capt. Hefling (Stephen Hoye) doesn't want to lose his brilliant meal ticket, so he contrives to leave the sap unprepared for the test. Easier said than done.

3 at desksCome test time the monitor Mr. Walters (Frank Oz) spies the one cheating off the other and turns on the hidden cameras. They both get called before the brass, but instead of being reprimanded they are given a promotion, some quickie training, and a foreign assignment. Then they get dumped in the soup.


These two bottom of the barrel agents have a lot they could teach us about success in life, along the lines of King Solomon deriving lessons from nature: (Prov. 30:24) “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:” starting with, (Prov. 30:25) “The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.” Start earning income in your youth, i.e. the summer of life. Fitz-Hume's grand­dad was an envoy, his dad was an envoy, he was “born into the trade.” He started in '74 as a mail boy, his father having got him his job. It's intimated that he got through high school by trading on sexual favors and he's still at it but that only gets him so far.

Austin started his education breaking code on a Drogan's decoder wheel (“They put these into cereal boxes for kids.”) “Mr. Hands” went into his professional life fixing office copiers at Defense. He branched out by connecting up home cable for his supervisor who recognizing his talent gave him his own work to do under the table.

We also see period accurate portraits of President Reagan and a glimpse of one of his scenes in a musical. The show­man president started as a Hollywood actor.

(Prov. 30:26) “The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks.” The conies seem to follow the three guiding principles of real estate: location, location, location. Opening scenes depict the action occurring in Washington, DC the seat of power. Accepting a field assignment in the Middle East was also a proper career move.

(Prov. 30:27) “The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands.” Success involves having the right cohorts. These fellows were team players, a critical factor in their promotion. In the field they teamed up with the Yusufzai (“They're Afghani freedom fighters; they're our allies,”) then with what remained of the primary team, and ultimately as needed with the Russians. The theme song to “Spies Like Us” included the appropriate line, “One for all and all for one./ Every­one's on the run.” Bob Hope in a cameo showed him­self a team player courteously “playing through” in his golf game.

(Prov. 30:28) “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.” Finally, one needs to take hold of his own niche. These two positioned them­selves high in the corridors of power at the end. Austin had to go for it despite “that my high school guidance counselor said that I'd never amount to anything.”

Production Values

” (1985) was directed by John Landis. Its story was concocted by Dan Aykroyd and Dave Thomas. Its screen­play was written by Dan Aykroyd, Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel. The film co-starred Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd. It included cameos by Terry Gilliam, Ray Harry­hausen, and Bob Hope. Sam Raimi and Joel Coen also had some fleeting exposure. Chase & Aykroyd were choice in their fumbling spy parts. Curvaceous Donna Dixon (Mrs. Aykroyd) played an eyeful Dr. Boyer. Steve Forrest was a credible General Sline calling the shots. All the parts came off well. Ronald Reagan's photos were everywhere.

The film was rated PG. Period pop music included a rousing “Soul Finger” by the Bar-Kays. The jokes came from all directions. The sets looked realistic enough. The film was 102 minutes long and was shot in Norway, England, Morocco, and California.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

“Spies Like Us” is a righteous spoof of regular spy and action movies. It is some­what dated and has over time become a cult-classic. I thought it was really funny but it might not appeal to every­one's taste. It makes use of the ridiculous for its humor. At least one knows what to expect.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Likeminded Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Ben-David, Mishka. Final Stop, Algiers. Copyright © 2012 by Mishka Ben-David. New York: Over­look Press, 2012. Print.

McCartney, Paul. “Spies Like Us.” Quoted from the film.