Director: Takashi Katagiri Screenwriter: Ichirō Ōkouchi Cast: Takuya Eguchi, Atsumi Tanezaki, Saori Hayami Distributor: Toho Running Time: 110 min. MPAA: PG-13

There is a level of admiration I have for the mounting twists and comical misunderstandings that make Spy x Family fun. The antics of three people keeping secrets from each other, with their family unit being a perfect cover, has had its moments of charm. However, that charm is tested with Code: White, the first film for the show that plays out like an elongated episode without the same level of excitement and detours.

The best thing that can be said about the film, however, is that it doesn’t require much foreknowledge of the TV series. Newcomers will be quickly informed on the trio of Loid, the spy trying to be a husband and father, Yor, the assassin trying to a wife and mother, and Anya, the kid psychic who knows both their secrets and wants to keep the family together. In order for Loid to keep this family facade from cracking, he aims to get closer to a secret organization by helping Anya rise up in her school rank and attain access to elite events in the city. To do this, Loid aims for Anya to bake the best dessert for her cooking class and figures the best way to do this is with a field trip to a snowy country where the best desserts are made.

The stakes feel incredibly low for this adventure, considering that there are numerous alternatives and telegraphed reveals. Loid’s quest for the perfect dessert should be enough of a drive for his family-save trip, but a secondary plot presents itself with a smuggled microfilm by the violent military of the snowy region. Yor’s fears of Loid having an affair are exaggerated from the start, and there’s no fear about whether or not Loid and Yor will continue their marriage cover. As for Anya, she does her usual thing of venturing off into action and struggling to preserve the bond between her adoptive parents. All of them will face a bog-standard evil military leader and a generic cyborg with a minigun arm.

For a film about spies, there’s little to no surprises with how early everything is revealed. Consider the scene where Loid puts on the disguise of a military official and the two identical people battle each other in front of troops. The troops might not be able to tell them apart, but the audience will as the direction falls back on internal monologues and color-coded bodies to let you know which character is Loid. Watching this movie feels like a spy film with cheat codes enabled, where the family dog has a clairvoyant power that spoils much of the plot. With the twists and schemes all unfolding early, there’s a sensation of how needlessly elongated everything feels. Bits that could be amusing, like Anya’s poop god fantasy, go on for far too long. The same goes for Yor’s divorce fears, which are padded with flashbacks to the rumored signs of an affair she hears from her coworkers. It’s also disheartening that Yor’s arc is reduced to paranoia that the film seems almost completely to forget about her assassin skills until the third act.

Despite some quality animation, Code: White feels like an average Spy x Family episode that is too long and simplistic to be as enduring as the show. While I never expected the film to present anything all that shocking as an unexpected character death or a major revelation of the family unit, the way the film spins its wheels with it usual antics feels less compelling in this meandering story. It has moments here and there of finding stuff for the trio to do, but it never seems to place enough trust in the audience to deliver a more twist-heavy adventure. Scenes of Yor getting drunk to confront Loid about infidelity and Loid’s romantic gestures being met with the obligatory embarassed-girl slap just don’t pack a punch in this picture. It’s a self-contained vacation movie where it feels like all the stuff that made the anime so great also went on vacation.

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