“I Spy” is campy fun

Andrea Barnes

Andrea Barnes

It’s not every day that a person actually learns something from a movie. I Spy, the action/comedy starring Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy taught me one valuable lesson: I need to go to more matinees. Don’t misunderstand me. I did enjoy the film. But if I’m going to spend six-fifty on a show, there had better be more than popcorn and nutshots. If that’s all I wanted from the evening, I could have just seen Jackass.

I Spy is a revamp of the 1965 television series of the same name. Owen Wilson is Alex Scott, a special agent for the Bureau of National Security. Eddie Murphy plays boxer Kelly Robinson so well you could have sworn he’d done it before. Hmm? where have I seen Murphy play an obnoxious, egotistical, limelight-hog? The first film that comes to mind is Bowfinger (1999) where he played Hollywood action star Kit Ramsey.

The plot is simple. A prototype jet has been stolen from the US Government and will be auctioned off to the highest bidder in Budapest, Hungary. The Bureau sends out a team of agents to recover it, with Kelly along only to provide civilian cover for Alex. Once in Budapest, the usual spy-stuff happens. Car chases, explosions, and nutshots. Wilson gets it five times?the sixth being reserved for Murphy.

There’s an awesome scene where Murphy is putting words in Wilson’s mouth, and I laughed out loud when they started an energetic round of “Sexual Healing.”

Thankfully, this is not one of those movies where the preview has given everything away.

There are plenty of fun little treats waiting for viewers. Wilson has some good dialogue and Murphy is still a great actor, despite his recycled character. The few scenes in which these two seem to be having fun are naturally the most satisfying for the audience. I particularly enjoyed their enthusiasm about receiving a ticker tape parade.

All in all, it was nice to see a movie that didn’t require a great deal of thought on my part, although the movie wasn’t completely witless.

Still, the talent had to came through. The story wasn’t strong enough to hold its own without the two stars.

3 stars