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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.56%
Worth A Look: 9.26%
Average: 7.41%
Pretty Bad59.26%
Total Crap: 18.52%

4 reviews, 30 user ratings

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I Spy
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by Erik Childress

"...With My Eye - A Pretty Flat Flick"
2 stars

There’s a scene in the middle of I Spy where stars Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson are forced to hide in a sewer. It’s a long scene, one that a colleague of mine said feels like something you would see in the deleted scenes section of the DVD section. The two actors discuss how bad it stinks down there and then spend a good amount of screen time trading barbs and talking to each other as if the script pages hadn’t arrived that day. Critics just wait for scenes like this. Stuck right in the middle of an already below mediocre film, a writer can open his eyes and ears knowing full well that they’ve received an entry point into their review. It’s one of the few times my eyes and ears were wide open during this film.

Why do filmmakers even bother anymore? Are we so stupid a nation that we can’t tell that the TV-into-film trend has taken a sharp turn into nothing but name recognition? Not that it was the most noble endeavor in the first place, but even with the occasional success (The Fugitive) audiences could still go in and expect some kind of direct relation to the original series. Even when it turned to poking fun with the Brady Bunch films and an upcoming Starsky and Hutch feature (with Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson), the roots still poked out from the surface. Nowadays, it comes down to picking a title and maybe keeping the names of the original characters

That’s about all there really is to adapt from the 1960s series. A white tennis player and a black spy team up. What more is there other than it being one of the first shows to feature an African-American (Bill Cosby) in the lead? In 2002, there’s now a white spy and a black boxer. Their names are still Alex Scott (Owen Wilson) and Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy). So what more is there? Not a whole lot.

What serves as a plot has third-string spy, Scott, assigned by the “BNS” to thwart the sale of an invisible jet by international baddie Arnold Gundars (Malcolm McDowell, cashing a paycheck for two scenes worth of work.) For story purposes, the BNS and President GWB ask Robinson to join Scott on his mission as an escort to get into a party full of, apparently, every bad guy in the world. The potential for that scene alone warrants unlimited comic possibilities, but like most everything else, isn’t taken advantage of.

Four screenwriters. That’s what it took. Four of them. And I will put a bet down that not one of them came up with a single joke worthy of a Kindergartner telling a Knock-Knock joke. Anything that is remotely amusing or has any flashes of comic energy had to have been supplied by Murphy and Wilson relying on their own comic instincts. Murphy is on full blast here (a drinking game awaits for every time he says “Kelly Robinson” in the film) and Wilson, who has that rare quality to play both the straight man and the funniest personality in the room at the same time is given such a confused character that he has no choice but to play off of Murphy’s shtick. When you see the two funniest scenes in the film, a climactic rooftop confrontation and a Cyrano bit set to the music of “Sexual Healing” as Murphy helps Wilson overcome his crush on fellow agent, Rachel (a very good and sexy Famke Janssen), the flattest parts of the film (namely the other 80 minutes) stand out all the more.

Betty Thomas (The Brady Bunch Movie, Private Parts) should have been the right choice to direct this material, but even she seems intent on letting the two comic geniuses just run with their personalities rather than maximizing the inherent satire. An opening scene gives Wilson the chance to mock his ridiculous action turn in Behind Enemy Lines, but doesn’t. A prolonged chase in the middle neither reaches for excitement or plants the tongue firmly enough in the cheek. And how can anyone waste the great Gary Cole as a superspy with a Spanish accent (even though he’s from Iowa?)

If I Spy were funny (enough) or exciting (enough) then it would be fairly simple to forgive the financial extortion it’s trying to reap from the moviegoing public. It doesn’t pull its weight as a nostaglic wink nor embraces it with a fitting tribute. All we’re left with are two great comic actors sitting around in a sewer filled with ass-blasted sludge trying desperately to pass the time until the next project comes along. With Hollywood these days, that could easily mean Hawaii Five-O with the cast of Baywatch, Ironside starring Michael Ironside and the one we’ve all been waiting for – Bonanza vs. Rawhide.

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originally posted: 11/01/02 09:36:42
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User Comments

5/20/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Doesn't really have much to do wtih the TV. show, but it's still kinda decent. 3 stars
8/13/09 Jeff Wilder Better than Pluto Nash. But still lame. Go to Budapest instead and see it yourself. 2 stars
9/08/05 matt it had its moments 3 stars
9/05/05 tony stupid with some funny parts 2 stars
6/16/05 mysterio it was really funny, eddie murphy as funny as ever, no problem here 4 stars
2/26/05 swamprat Yeah- worth a look- don't think abouit the plot just watch Eddie! 4 stars
6/05/04 Michael tucker Eddie Murphy made the movie good, he still got it. EDDIE!! EDDIE!! EDDIE!! 5 stars
6/05/04 Geron Smith Eddie Murphy is a g n funny. i dont know why these other dumasses like cat smith or gecko 5 stars
3/26/04 Alfred Guy Borders on total crap. And I watch almost anything. 2 stars
3/25/04 Shelley Shea Eddie Murphy still makes me laugh. 4 stars
3/25/04 Erica Thornton A mildly funny piece of fluff. 3 stars
3/24/04 Cat Smith While I love Owen Wilson, I could have happily killed Eddie Murphy. This film is Crappy. 1 stars
3/24/04 Leslie Lato A comedy... without laughs. 2 stars
3/09/04 Jaco Visser Have ssen better, but what else to expect from Chan? 2 stars
6/03/03 Virgil Both actors are usually funny, but they were floundering in this movie. Sucked! 1 stars
4/19/03 Gecko Fanfoot This movie could have been much better with Chris Tucker instead of Murphy. Oh well. 2 stars
3/05/03 Andrew Carden Horrid Adaption Of Unfunny 60's Crime Show. 1 stars
2/04/03 Robyn Jamil-Walid Exasperating overkill of the feuding partners theme. 2 stars
2/03/03 Turtle Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson are great together. Another great buddy comedy/action flick. 4 stars
1/13/03 343 3r3 5 stars
1/10/03 Paul Coleman Worst movie of the year. The filmmakers should be ashamed! 1 stars
12/08/02 Michael Flynn 1/2*: Let's see...cliches, plot holes, cliches, plot holes...the misery never ends here. 1 stars
11/24/02 Joe Zappa "The Tuxedo," "The Transporter," "I Spy." Same movie, different name. 2 stars
11/10/02 Mipchunk I thought this was about the transexual in Eddie's van, what a letdown. 1 stars
11/06/02 Kyle Kryger Had some slow points, but overall is was the best new release I've seen in 6 months 4 stars
11/02/02 Uncle Salty Shovel this one on top of the other 512 buddy-film shit remakes we've seen. Murphy is OVER. 1 stars
11/02/02 Jake No more Eddie Murphy! He sucks. 1 stars
11/02/02 Darren Shea Passable entertaiment - the leads have good chemistry, but the so-so script drags in spots. 3 stars
11/01/02 they are making a hawaii five o movie. i'll probably see that. didn't bother w/ this... 1 stars
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  01-Nov-2002 (PG-13)



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