Once Upon a Spy (1980) starring Ted Danson, Mary Louise Weller, Christopher Lee, Eleanor Parker directed by Ivan Nagy Movie Review

Once Upon a Spy (1980)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Ted Danson in Once Upon a Spy (1980)

Three Cheers for Danson the Spy

Government computer expert Jack Chenault (Ted Danson - Mad Money) is surprised to be assigned his first field mission when a tracking satellite belonging to NASA somehow goes missing. Paired up with super agent Paige Tannehill (Mary Louise Weller) they must uncover who has stolen the satellite and prevent what ever his plans are. That person is wheel chair bound millionaire businessman Marcus Valorium (Christopher Lee - Bear Island) who has nefarious plans for world domination which involves using a ray gun to shrink down scientists.

How many levels of hilarious are there? You may be wondering what random world I am off on but find a copy of "Once Upon a Spy" and just watch the first 10 minutes. In those 10 minutes we have a knock off James Bond opening with silhouetted women, a ray gun, Ted Danson as a computer geek who is repairing a computer that would fill a cinema with a paper clip just so that he can play computer chess as well as Mary Louise Weller moaning that she is getting covered in oil whilst standing in the computer room. And that is not all of the hilarity as it ends with a ride at an amusement park on The Tunnel of Love which takes Danson and Weller through a secret entrance to a top secret government building. But whilst ridiculously daft it is also entertaining, a lot more than I expected it to be.

Christopher Lee in Once Upon a Spy (1980)

To put it simply "Once Upon a Spy" feels like a mix of James Bond with the "Man from Uncle" and certainly played for laughs right from the word go. As such we have computer geek Jack thrown into the world of spying in order to catch the nefarious businessman Marcus who in Bond style is not only in a wheelchair but has plans for world domination. But we also have lots of gadgets with Paige being the super agent with tricked out cars and all the sorts of things only the most well equipped female spy has.

But in truth what makes "Once Upon a Spy" is not the story or the knock off elements from other movies but for the simple fact it is played for laughs. The antagonistic but flirtatious relationship between Jack and Paige is perfect with her frustration at his ineptness providing plenty of laughs with Ted Danson doing a brilliant job of providing countless funny expressions. The chemistry between Danson and Weller is what makes the movie as they get the tone of their characters spot on but there is also Christopher Lee who again has fun playing it as a villain. The thing about "Once Upon a Spy" is that it could quite have easily generated either more TV movies or a whole series and I am sure it would have worked thanks to Danson's charm and the attractive Weller's playfulness.

What this all boils down to is that "Once Upon a Spy" might look like a cheesy spy movie and in many ways it is a cheesy spy movie. But it is also intentionally funny and almost spoof like at times which makes it surprisingly good fun for the intended purposes rather than just for being comically dated.