Directed by Betty Thomas ("Private Parts").
Written by Marianne Wibberley, Cormac Wibberley, Jay Scherick and
Starring Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson and Famke Janssen
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 11/6/02
Every so often, a film puts it all
together. A BAD film, I mean.
Mismatched lead characters with almost no
chemistry. Big stars, a sorta-big director, and big stunts &
special effects. Atrocious acting, strange plot twists and sketchy
editing. A sorry, no-account soundtrack. Do I even have to mention
the fact that this is a black guy/white guy buddy-cop style film?
“I Spy” is so loosely based on the 1960s TV
show starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby that it shouldn’t have even
been called “I Spy.” Owen Wilson stars as Special Agent Scott, an
agent for the BNS (Bureau of National Security, which sounds made
up), a United States spy unit that apparently features all of two
spies. One is Scott, and the other is the BNS’ lead agent, Carlos
(Gary Cole, “Office Space”). Since Carlos is off on another
mission, Scott is teamed with another Special Agent named Rachel (Famke
Janssen) to locate and retrieve a top-secret plane called the
Switchblade, which is being auctioned to the world’s most dangerous
criminals by Gundar (Malcolm McDowell) in Budapest when the movie
begins. Apparently, the ONLY way to find this plane is to recruit
the world middleweight champion boxer, Kelly Robinson (Eddie
Murphy), since Gundar is a huge boxing fanatic. Hijinks ensue.
Wow, this movie blows. What makes it so bad
is that it is trying so hard to be some cross between the “Austin
Powers” series of spy comedies and a James Bond ripoff with spy
gadgets and gun battles and car chases. It fails at both, mostly
because Murphy is so not funny in this film. He does have a couple
of good lines, mostly at the expense of retarded people; basically,
this character is the same as his movie-star persona from
without, oh, the humor. His scenes with Wilson, save for one in a
sewer, are all too long and must have made director Betty Thomas
(“Doctor Doolittle”, Howard Stern’s “Private Parts”) look at the
replay on her monitor and wonder, “Why did I take this gig?” And,
will one of you please tell me why it is that Hollywood is so
convinced that Owen Wilson should be our next big white action
star? I will admit that white action stars are in a funk right now,
but why Wilson? With
“Behind Enemy Lines”,
“Shanghai Noon” (and its
sequel, set for release next year), and the upcoming “Starsky and
Hutch” remake, why so much OWEN WILSON?! McDowell looks bored.
Sugar Ray Leonard appears in a cameo...and doesn’t speak any lines!
And Janssen, so good in “Goldeneye” but so useless in everything
else she has touched save for “X-Men”, is hot but wasted here. Why
did she not become a breakout star after that film? So many Bond
women go off to do great things, but Janssen’s mediocre career takes
a dive here in “I Spy.”
Being a PG-13 action film, there are a
hilarious number of one-shot kills (“Ahh! My shoulder! I’m
dying!”), sex teases but no actual sex scenes, 125 instances of the
word “shit”, and a bad, bad ending. This movie even had a bad
advertising campaign, and the posters...ugh, the posters! They are
posted all over San Francisco, and they all suck. The rap music
attached to the film isn’t too bad, but not meant for this film at
all. Even the boxing scenes are pitiful—it looks like Murphy didn’t
take enough fake boxing classes to make this look good. Say what
you will about Sly Stallone, but at least it *looks* like he can
fight in the “Rocky” series. And, although he is just a boxer,
Murphy’s character is amazingly handy with a submachine gun.
This shit sucks.
Rating: Hard Vice
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard