"I Spy" ... another buddy movie with predictable action.
WITLESS, PREDICTABLE action-comedy. Hollywood may not have grown tired of these buddy movies, but we have. How many of them can we take, anyway? The formula is the same: pair two stars to play unlikely characters who will hate each other first, then make up, then quarrel, then make up, then... well, finally they'll get their act together and beat the bad guys. What the studio counts on is that the audience will find at least ONE of the stars funny. The comedy in these action movie spoofs is supposed to arise from seeing two big stars playing characters that constantly get in each other's face. I mean, do we really care?
Apparently, ``I Spy," directed by Betty Thomas, is based on a 60s TV series that starred Billy Cosby in one of the first big roles for an African-American actor in television. Malcolm McDowell returns from television hell to play a sneering, nasty Eurotrash villain again. He has plans to steal some invisible jet and Owen Wilson, a spy, has to go undercover to catch him. The villains happen to like boxing, so the only way Wilson can go undercover and be convincing is to play the sidekick to a champion, egotistical boxer like Eddie Murphy. The laughs are meant to come from watching an experienced spy having to listen to the likes of Murphy (who should really be the sidekick) but how funny can that be? It might be good for a few chuckles to begin with but can grow tiresome. The action is predictable and loud - explosions, chases, gun play. Only Gary Cole is funny as a Latino super spy and Famke Janssen, playing a secret agent, is sleek and stylish. Wilson has been turning up in too many movies as the charming, deadpan co-star for us to be charmed anymore, while Murphy must play something other than that smart-aleck motor-mouth character if he has to be funny again.
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