I Spy

I Spy

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Based on the popular ‘60s television series that launched Bill Cosby’s career, I Spy is a nostalgia-free shit job that features what could be Eddie Murphy’s shrillest performance to date. The U.S. government hires boxer Kelly Robinson (Murphy) to help Alexander Scott (Owen Wilson) go hog-wild in Budapest in search of a top-secret aircraft (think Wonder Woman’s invisible jet except not as fun). The cardboard characters have all been dutifully defined and reduced by their race: flamenco beats accompany a Cuban super-spy’s every entrance; fried chicken and pork rinds greet Robinson at an airport pit stop; and Wilson gets to play the dumb white dude to Murphy’s suave black Cyrano. When Carlos (Gary Cole) exits frame, Alexander gives him the good ol’ “la vida loca” farewell. More troublesome: when he wants to get Kelly off his ass during an impromptu alley fight, Alexander feeds the Budapest police “the black guy mugged me” bit. Murphy has been inexplicably given free range over the project—so much so that I Spy could very well pass as the sequel to last year’s Shrek. Murphy’s mouth gets to work overtime, and as such most of what spews out is diarrhetic and difficult to make out. Kelly teaches Alexander a thing or two about sexual healing to humorous effect but how much longer is Murphy going to allow himself to play the donkey’s ass to every white actor he shares top billing with? File this film and performance under Motion Sickness.

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DVD
Distributor
Columbia Pictures
Runtime
96 min
Rating
PG-13
Year
2002
Director
Betty Thomas
Screenwriter
David Ronn, Jay Scherick, Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley
Cast
Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Famke Janssen, Malcolm McDowell, Gary Cole, Viv Leacock, Phill Lewis, Darren Shahlavi