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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: I-Spy

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson
Director: Betty Thomas
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: November 2002
Genres: Action, Comedy

Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

For those not old enough to remember, a cleverly written comedy/espionage show, "I Spy," was a major hit of the 1960s. Starring Bill Cosby and Robert Culp, it was the first successful TV series with black/white co-stars. What this TV-to-film version has in common with its predecessor is the title and color-blended team casting. In the TV show, Bill Cosby's character was a Princeton-educated operative; here, he's morphed into Kelly "K.O." Robinson, an egotistical, obnoxious middle-weight boxing champion played by Eddie Murphy. Continuing the name/race reversal, while Robert Culp was a tennis player-turned-spy, Owen Wilson is bumbling Special Agent Alex Scott. As the plot unfolds, the President of the United States asks Kelly to be the "civilian cover" for Scott who must foil the sale of a super stealth fighter plane known as "The Switchblade" by a notorious arms dealer - that's Malcolm McDowell - in Budapest, Hungary.

Updated by Marianne and Cormac Wibberley/Jay Scherick and David Ronn, and directed by Betty Thomas ("The Brady Bunch Movie"), the Murphy/Wilson danger-with-laughs duo never achieves the cool, hip, bantering momentum of Cosby/Culp. That's the fault of the hackneyed, underdeveloped script which relies too much on underwhelming James Bond'ish special effects. And the supporting roles given to Famke Janssen and Gary Cole are superficial stereotypes. The buddy rapport of Murphy and Wilson clicks only twice: in a sewer-scene confessional and in a riff on a Cyrano de Bergerac-type courtship twist. That's just not enough. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "I Spy" is a campy, banal 5. Oddly enough, what I missed most was the TV show's signature

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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