Family-friendly spy movies
September 13, 2014 5:07 PM   Subscribe

Just watched Hopscotch (thanks carsonb) with my 12 year old and we both really liked it. Can you point me to more spy movies that would be good for a tween and an adult?

She's patient with old movies, but new is good too, we both like clever and seeing misfits come out on top, and we don't want much violence or anything super scary. Also, anything really opaque or all faces talking to each other (like the new Tinker Taylor which I liked but would bore the crap out of my kid) wouldn't work.

"Spy movie" can be a really broad category - we were also going to watch Sneakers.

There have been several askmes about Spy movies, but I don't think anything that specifically culls out the violent or especially scary.

posted by latkes to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
To clarify, I don't think I'm looking for Spy Kids or other kids movies, unless they're exceptionally clever or work easily for an adult audience too.
posted by latkes at 5:14 PM on September 13, 2014

Cloak and Dagger maybe?
posted by Captain_Science at 5:14 PM on September 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you want a laugh, then Top Secret!
posted by idb at 5:21 PM on September 13, 2014

Gotcha starring a very young Anthony Edwards and Linda Fiorentino is just what you're looking for, I think. It's PG-13 with implied sex but nothing graphic, as I recall.
posted by briank at 5:21 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Charade, with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.
posted by lysimache at 5:22 PM on September 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Stormbreaker is sort of James Bond for kids.

There's also Catch That Kid with a young Kristen Stewart.
posted by kariebookish at 5:22 PM on September 13, 2014

Thanks so far.. FYI, Charade looks like exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for, although some of these movies about Kids as Spies might work as stuff I'd let her watch by herself, but aren't exactly what I"m looking for.
posted by latkes at 5:30 PM on September 13, 2014

Watching Columbo with my 11 year old - not sure how that will translate.
posted by shothotbot at 5:35 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Anderson Tapes
posted by Rob Rockets at 5:37 PM on September 13, 2014

It's not quite spies but How to Steal a Million (another Hepburn in incredible fashion, with sassy Peter O'Toole).
posted by Mizu at 5:38 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Can't believe no one has mentioned Kick-Ass yet. (Oh, crap, that would have to be a reaaally broad category.)
posted by bricoleur at 6:50 PM on September 13, 2014

I know you said movies, but TV's Leverage is a fun caper series. It is Robin Hood-esque with the Leverage team tricking the bad guys who have stolen/hurt an underdog type. Might be fun for those nights when a move is too long.

Charade is one of my favorite movies; you will both love it. North by Northwest and To Catch a Thief are similar in tone. Plus Cary Grant in all three!
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 6:59 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bill Murray's The Man Who Knew Too Little is pretty awesome.
posted by Mchelly at 7:40 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sneakers is great. I would recommend The Score (a heist movie).

If we're talking, broadly, about movies with deception, I would suggest some con and heist movies: House of Games, Heist (both David Mamet, so language a-plenty) The Sting, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Matchstick Men.

Spy movies: Three Days of the Condor, Argo, The 39 Steps (directed by Hitchcock). Enigma (actually a murder mystery set at Bletchley Park during WWII, the site of the British code-breaking effort).

Miniseries: The Company, a 4-part historical fiction series set at the Cold War CIA. Very good, a little bit of shots-in-the-night violence and some fighting. Might be boring, though.

Spoofs: The Man Who Knew Too Little, The Man with One Red Shoe (PG sex content including an audio gag that could be compared to Meg Ryan's most famous movie scene)
posted by Sunburnt at 7:43 PM on September 13, 2014

"Hackers?" "War Games?" Man, I wish I could see War Games for the first time again at her age. Maybe "The Manhattan Project," about a high-school kid who built a nuclear weapon to see if he can. (Spoiler: he can)
posted by Sunburnt at 7:45 PM on September 13, 2014

The Man With One Red Shoe
posted by rhizome at 8:03 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you felt like expanding to television series, you could give Alias a try.

True Lies might be fun.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:08 PM on September 13, 2014

I found the Pink Panther movies hysterical as a kid.
posted by Wavelet at 8:15 PM on September 13, 2014

Not spies but TV mystery, since Columbo was mentioned (which I also recommend): Ellery Queen. Light, charming, with an explicit solve-it-yourself structure. Just before the reveal Ellery turns to the camera and asks if you've figured it out.
posted by dan_of_brainlog at 8:42 PM on September 13, 2014

Three Days of the Condor? That one's pretty intense, especially the beginning.

How about PBS David Suchet Poirot or Granada Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes? Some of them feature spies (and plenty of heists and 'clever' of course.)
posted by sevenless at 9:46 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hustle (the format Leverage tried to, unsuccessfully IMO, copy). Fun for all types of families.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:53 PM on September 13, 2014

Spies Like Us
posted by maggieb at 10:36 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you liked Hopscotch...
you'll probably like Matthau in Charley Varrick, a clever misfit, though not a spy.
posted by artdrectr at 11:58 PM on September 13, 2014

The Day of the Jackal.
posted by Wet Spot at 5:06 AM on September 14, 2014

The writer who made Charade (above) made a couple of other fantastic movies back during the sixties that are mostly overlooked.

Arabesque (you have to look beyond the cheesy Middle Eastern stereotypes, but very much worth it). Top performances from Peck and Loren.

Mirage - a great thriller with moments of humor. One of my favorite performances by Walter Matthau as a worldly wise private detective. Not exactly spy, but intrigue with international implications.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:18 AM on September 14, 2014

As a genre, perhaps the term of interest is "caper" although those tend to be ensemble movies rather than a single protagonist. That said, how about The Sting?
posted by idb at 7:16 AM on September 14, 2014

Duck Soup. They're spies, your kid is the right age, and it's hilarious.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:14 AM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Caper and heist flicks both share much in common with the more lighthearted spy movies. Would something like Ocean's Eleven appeal? The original Italian Job?
posted by fiercekitten at 10:43 AM on September 14, 2014

I agree, caper movies are a broader genre that should have very similar appeal. The two unmissable classics are Rififi and Topkapi (which is in some respects a celebrity remake). Several of the Pink Panther films are at least partially caper films although they devolved into "let Sellers do his thing" which wasn't always a good choice, and a few Bond films borrow liberally -- not to mention the iconic scene from the first Mission: Impossible movie.
posted by dhartung at 11:35 AM on September 14, 2014

I second Rififi. It is all around terrific.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 11:55 AM on September 14, 2014

"Caper" makes me think of "The Great Muppet Caper," which at the very least would be a light (and highly entertaining) diversion from the more conventional stuff.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:36 PM on September 14, 2014

In like Flint w/ James Coburn
The Sting isn't a spy movie, but it has suspense and some great gambits.
The IPCRESS File w/Michael Caine

There was a recent remake of 39 Steps that's quite good.

Tinker, Tailor, and anything else based on LeCarre.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:15 PM on September 14, 2014

Just watched Charade. It was actually kind of grotesque in some of the murder scenes but besides that worked well. The kid really liked it. I think we'll do War Games next (good call for related genre).
posted by latkes at 9:21 PM on September 14, 2014

I came in to suggest Sneakers and for heist movies, The Italian Job and the Oceans franchise. The Sting is very clever. And I can't remember how violent it is, but Mission: Impossible is an entertaining spy film. Also, what about the entire run of Bond films?
posted by DarlingBri at 4:50 AM on September 15, 2014

I'm going to respond to someone earlier's recommendation of "True Lies" with a counterbalancing disrecommendation. Parts of it are fine -- standard action-movie spy fare. But a whole lot of it is just icky. It was awkward even at the time and has emphatically not aged well.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:31 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I wouldn't recommend True Lies. Discussed on the Blue with vast amounts of distaste for the striptease scene.
posted by idb at 4:00 PM on September 15, 2014

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