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Volume 68, Issue 49, Friday, November 1, 2002

Arts & Entertainment

Bad I Spyi lacks plot, comedy

By Andrew Beard
The Daily Cougar

I can forgive Owen Wilson for many things (The Haunting, Zoolander and Behind Enemy Lines quickly come to mind). 

I Spy, however, is simply unforgivable.

Wilsonis previous work with the always-clever Wes Anderson in The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore and Bottle Rocket has inspired a cult following and propelled him to stardom. 

But, for some unfortunate reason, Wilson releases at least one terrible blockbuster every year.

In the film version of the 1960s television hi, I Spy, Owen Wilson (left) and Eddie Murphy fail to provide laughs with the poorly drawn plot.

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

This year, Wilson makes I Spy his white-elephant gift to filmgoers.

Only Hollywood can pair the comic genius of Eddie Murphy, who unfortunately is coming off a streak of bad films, with the screen presence of Owen Wilson and make a movie that sucks on so many levels.

The plot (I use the term loosely) begins with a film cliché, left over from the 1980s, involving Russians as stupid animals with bad aim. 

The opening scene shows Wilson as Alex Scott, a spy for the Bureau of National Security, dodging evil Russians with tanks and bazookas. He escapes back to the United States, and not much else is mentioned about this event.

Upon his return to the BNS, Scott is placed in charge of a secret mission in Budapest; its goal is to retrieve an invisible stolen plane called The Switchblade. He plans to infiltrate a high-class party that has a guest list full of international terrorists.

Do international terrorists really have parties together? If so, where the hell is the CIA when these things go down?

To get into the party, world-championship boxer Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) is asked by President Bush to assist Scott in the operation. 

Robinson, however, isnit necessarily a team player. He constantly refers to himself in the third person and mentions his boxing record (58-0) at the drop of a hat.

Thus, the comedic setup for the entire movie. Murphy is loud and arrogant, while Wilson is quiet and humble. Let the shenanigans begin.

Itis funny for about five seconds, and most of that humor has already been shown in the previews. 

In other words, not much is left to sit through.

For some reason, I Spy must have refused to fill its role as a goofy buddy comedy. 

Instead, director Betty Thomas, who filmed The Brady Bunch Movie, Private Parts and Doctor Dolittle, keeps hitting the audience with harsh doses of reality.

Numerous characters discuss using The Switchblade to transport weapons of mass destruction. One of the terrorists even mentions using the stolen jet to drop nukes on Washington, D.C. 

This ruined any attempt at making comedic scenes work, especially in such a lame context.

The movie thankfully comes to an end after several confusing plot developments; most afford Murphy the opportunity to mispronounce curse words in a clever way.

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