I Spy Cover Eye spy, with my little eye, something to do with a blatant character comedy involving an old television series, and two actors who have very nice hair? No? It's not the Teletubbies! Mores the pity. Instead it this film Directed by Betty Thomas; and Starring: Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Famke Janssen, and Malcolm McDowell. It was made in 2002 and lasts for 97 minutes.

I Spy

if it wasn't bad enough that blond-haired secret agent, Alex Scott (Owen Wilson), has been instructed by his superiors to track down and stop silver-haired crime-lord, Arnold Gundars (Malcolm McDowell), from selling an invisible plane to some known terrorists in Budapest. Worst still, is that Alex is also forced to carry out this mission with some assistance from some loud-mouthed belligerent-boxer called Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) too.

However, thanks to some shrewd cohesion from one of Alex's pretty colleges, Rachel Wright (Famke Janssen), Alex manages to get Kelly to play along with them in a more amicable capacity --  just in the nick of time for them to both carry out the following three phase plan.

(STEP ONE) Plant a tracking device on Arnold at a pre-match boxing exhibition. (STEP TWO) Get Kelly to cause a disturbance at this event, whilst Alex hacks into Arnold's computer system for the location of the plane. (STEP THREE) Get away.

Now I am sure that you will agree with me when I say that this sounds like a very simple three phase plan, right? Regrettably though, due to Kelly's own bold stupid-ness, both he and Alex are caught in the act -- and have no choice but to run, jump, drive, and talk shit, until they can get away from Arnolds men, who are all in hot pursuit.

Ouch! Well, that is most probably why what next transpires packs a punch when Kelly persuades Alex to sing a Marvin Gaye song to Rachel. As partnerships split - planes go zip - attacks happen in an oasis - and all in all the resolution to this story is on a need to know basis. 

OK, I have to confess, I was in half a mind to not review 'I Spy', because my Mother always told me never to pick on the disabled. You see, this film is a rather lacklustre film overall, and has that play it by numbers plot-line that is just abysmal to follow.
Hey! Please do not get me wrong. I really do respect Eddie, Malcolm, Owen, and Famke, as actors. In the past they have all proven themselves to be really solid stars, managing to perform some very solid work. Moreover, I am not against this type of 'retro update' of a television classic either. Because conceptually these projects have proven than you can make what was once old new again.

Owen and Eddie in I Spy

Fair enough, I did find a hint of this positive momentum within three scenes in this movie. Now the first scene was where both Eddie and Owen bonded in the sewer -- as it was just silly, obvious, and revealing at the same time. The second scene was when Eddie guided Owen to serenade Famke with a Marvin Gaye song -- due to the fact that this ploy was imbued with some old school charm. And the third scene was a part of the whole end sequence -- as it cemented some cohesion between the characters friendship together.

As for the bad attributes of this film the other hand? Ouch! Too much to mention. But I will give it my best shot. (1) On occasion the actors [mainly Eddie] talked too fast, and I did not understand what the f*ck they were saying. (2) As I stated previously, the story to this flick was too predictable, having that yawn-some quality about where the premise was concerned. (3) The twist at the end was played as a throw away bit of nonsense, and was resolved before it had any momentum behind it. (4) I would have liked for the characters to be much more well rounded, and not treated as cardboard cut-outs of what has come previously. And (5) The style of this film is all over the place. One minute is it played for real. The next minute it's too artificial. And the minute after that it is played for laughs. Not consistent. Flimflam.

Jansen in I Spy

No. I think it best if I stop myself there. Or otherwise I may get a bit carried away. Let's have some film-facts now, huh? (1) The original 'I Spy' television series was created by Morton S. Fine and David no-initial Friedkin. (2) The director of this film, Betty Thomas, starred in the eighties cop-drama, 'Hill Street Blues', and also directed 'Alvin and the Chipmunks'. (3) Owen Wilson does not speak Hungarian in this film. Not to Hungarians anyway. (4) Famke Janssen is the only brunette girl in her family compared to her two blonde-haired blue-eyed sisters. (5) The palace belonging to Malcome McDowell's character is actually the Hungarian Royal Palace, called Buda Castle. (6) The composer on this film, Richard Gibbs, was once in a band with famed film composer, Danny Elfman. Their group was called 'Oingo Boingo'. (7) The characters in the television series roles were revered in this film. Kelly Robinson was the white guy and the athlete. Whereas Alexander Scott was the black guy and not a athlete. Though the Robert Culp / Owen Wilson character did have more experience as a spy than the Bill Cosby / Eddie Murphy character. (8) In the final scene, the dog is in fact Famke Janssen's own dog, Licorice. (9) Originally Kelly was supposed to be basketball player. But due to Eddie's small frame, it was changed to boxer instead. Moreover, actor, Darren Shahlavi, had to loose thirty pound so he could be a boxer of the same size as Eddie. And (10) Upon its release, this film was hacked to pieces in the media, and was nominated for three Razzies - worst actor, worst remake, and worse screen partnership. Worst still, is that out of the $70 million budget spent on it, it only made back $33 million domestically.

I Spy The Film

Ouch! Point ten really dug the nail into the coffin of 'I Spy', right? Well, it is one of those films that is more miss than hit I suppose. The worst thing about this though, is that I'm sure that it could have been a lot better than it was. The cast are a good cast. The concept was a good concept. It's just the implementation and the story that did not work, huh? Maybe it should have taken a leaf out of the original series book? Or why couldn't more of it be like this?

Say no more.


I SPY I SPY Reviewed by David Andrews on August 10, 2012 Rating: 5
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