I Spy

I Spy has three negative things going against it, which are all potential signs of a bad movie. First, it is a remake of an old television series. Second, it is a big blockbuster type movie that seems to rely more on gadgets and effects than any sort of story. Last, it is a buddy movie (worse, an interracial buddy cop movie), a genre beaten to death. I Spy embraces all these things and they combine to make one big dumb movie. It's especially sad given that the original television series. The original I Spy was much more clever and groundbreaking, it starred Bill Cosby and Robert Culp. The roles are reversed here with Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy, two extremely talented actors working with a wishy-washy script. They are both masters at guy buddy movies, and Murphy can probably be considered the king of buddy cop movies.

Wilson (Behind Enemy Lines, The Royal Tennenbaums) is Alexander Scott, a top government agent hot on the trail of the Switchblade, a top-secret jet with stealth capabilities that was stolen by Gundars (Malcolm McDowell, Just Visiting, The Barber). Gundars is a huge boxing fan, so the US government teams Scott with Kelly Robinson (Murphy, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Showtime), a championship boxer. Robinson's next match is going to be in Hungary, Gundars' base of operations. Robinson is going to get them close to Gundars so Scott can figure out where the Switchblade is. Oh, and Scott has a crush on fellow agent Rachel (Famke Janssen, Don't Say a Word, Made). Unfortunately for I Spy, the writers forgot a story. Marianne and Cormac Wibberly (The 6th Day, Motel Blue), and David Ronn and Jay Scherick (Serving Sara) basically lifted the concept of one agent and one sports star, stuck in two gifted actors, and then rambled on for a little over ninety minutes.

Most of the movie has Wilson and Murphy arguing or quipping the same way that partners always do. However, when this is the bulk of the movie, it gets tiring quickly. And the material they are using is not that funny. This is a classic case of overexposure. Director Betty Thomas (28 Days, Doctor Dolittle) apparently felt that the set-up was good enough, and never bothered with any sort of follow through. The actual story doesn't take up much time at all. The story also calls for Scott and Robinson to be bumbling idiots, mostly for comedic reasons. This can be funny at times, but it also makes one wonder why Scott isn't already dead. One of the more amusing ideas (again milked to death) is how Scott is jealous of Carlos (Gary Cole, One Hour Photo, The Gift, in awful makeup to make him look Hispanic), a spy who seems to get the women as well as the cool gadgets. There is simply no feeling of fun to I Spy. It becomes tiresome, bogged down by continual attempts at humor that continually fail.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 37 minutes, Rated PG-13 for action violence, some sexual content, and language.

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