John Candy plays Harry Crumb, the bumbling son who never quite lived up to the reputation of his sleuthing father and grandfather in his family’s long-standing detective agency. Instead of running the company, he’s been relegated to being a lowly trainee as their Tulsa office. Ineptitude is just what the CEO of the company, Eliot Draisen (Jeffrey Jones), in Los Angeles wants from an investigator for reasons of his own. Draisen flies out Crumb to Los Angeles to crack the case involving the kidnapping and ransom of Jennifer Downing, the beautiful heiress daughter of P.D. Downing (Barry Corbin) and his philandering new wife Helen (Annie Potts). Crumb begins to use his penchant for disguises to get to the bottom of things.
The plot of Spies Like Us involves the two most inept, low-level U.S. intelligence agents they could find to go on a mission as expendable decoys for the real agents. Emmett Fitz-Hume (Chevy Chase) and Austin Millbarge (Dan Aykroyd) were scouted by the CIA after cheating on their advanced placement exams, with a mission that sees them parachuting into Pakistan. From there, the bumbling duo ends up in Afghanistan, where they’re mistaken for doctors there on a humanitarian mission for the United Nations, followed by run-ins with the Russians during an effort to draw out the identities of Soviet spies in the area so that the real American spies can complete their mission to check out a news style of Soviet missile launcher. With this launcher, they can send up a Soviet missile in order to test the U.S. anti-missile satellite defenses in order to convince the Soviet Union that they have an edge in technology. John Landis directs this silly slapstick comedy.