I Spy (2002) Movie Review

Hollywood movies don’t get anymore superfluous than the big screen, big budget remake of the Bill Cosby TV series “I Spy”. Seeing as how there is no real reason, good or bad, for the movie to even exist in the first place other than to capitalize on the whole remaking a TV show into a feature length movie trend, you can either watch “I Spy” or not, and nothing about anything will have changed as a result.

“I Spy” is directed by Betty Thomas (“Private Parts”) and stars Owen Wilson (“Shanghai Knights”) as Alex, a spy for a fictitious American agency. Alex is something of a loser, or to be more exact, a lower class of spy at his agency. The real spy stud is Carlos (Gary Cole), who besides bedding all the women and getting all the cool assignments also gets equipped with all the cool gadgets ala James Bond. Poor Alex is saddled with lousy missions and “spy” gadgets the size of a car. When Alex is sent to recover a stolen super duper plane from bad guy Malcolm McDowell in a foreign country, he’s partnered up with loudmouth boxer Kelly (Eddie Murphy), who has a bad habit of talking about himself in the third person.

Besides a series of wholly contrived situations that leads up to the final action sequence on top of a bridge, “I Spy” is good for a laugh, if nothing else. Not a lot of laughs, mine you, but some laughs. It’s harmless fun, and Eddie Murphy seems perfectly at home as the glitzy boxer who can rattle off insults and quips as fast as he can think of them — or perhaps faster. Owen Wilson, on the other hand, seems a bit “off” playing the straight man in this Buddy Cop movie. Even so, Wilson gets off some good one-liners that aren’t completely lame.

“I Spy” is such a harmless movie that I won’t even bother trying to address all of its fallacies. I should only point out that Famke Janssen (“X-Men 2”) makes one heck of a hot spy, and those legs of hers seem to go on forever, especially when she sports a black leather mini-skirt. Malcolm McDowell (“Gangster No.1”) is basically basking in a big payday, since he only appears in limited screentime and has what amounts to a glorified cameo. Hope you spend that paycheck wisely, Malcolm.

Action-comedies like “I Spy” are a dime a dozen nowadays in Hollywood. I swear they crank out these types of movies by the dozens in any given month. Unlike a lot of other action-comedies, “I Spy” never really bothers to take anything seriously, and that’s a plus. People get shot all over the place but you never see any blood. The comedy is sometimes interesting, but never really inspired. Chuckles can be had, but no big laughs. Alex’s schoolboy crush on Janssen’s Rachel is a winner, but the rest is hit and miss.

The film is good for a lark, and it certainly isn’t a bad way to waste 90 minutes, even though that’s exactly what you’re doing — wasting 90 minutes for no real good reason.

Betty Thomas (director)
CAST: Eddie Murphy …. Kelly
Owen Wilson …. Alex
Famke Janssen …. Rachel
Malcolm McDowell …. Gundars
Gary Cole …. Carlos

Buy I Spy on DVD