Prayer Focus
Movie Review

I Spy

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence, some sexual content and language

Reviewed by: Megan Basham

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Comedy / Action
Year of Release:
Eddie Murphy in “I Spy”

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Famke Janssen, Malcolm McDowell, Mike Dopud | Directed by: Betty Thomas | Produced by: Betty Thomas, Jenno Topping, Mario Kassar, Andrew Vajna | Written by: Cormac Wibberly, Marianne Wibberley, Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Ronald Bass, Robert Harling, Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberly | Distributor: Columbia Pictures

In this early November, 2002 release, a secret government agency recruits an infamous sports star to thwart the efforts of glamorous international terrorists in an exotic Eastern European location. “Hey,” you’re thinking, “didn’t you guys already cover “Triple X”?” Well, yes, except the movie on the dissection table this week is “I Spy.” And there’s one major difference between it and “xXx”: I Spy’s actually a pretty good movie.

Those of you who pay attention to the opinions of major film pundits are probably wondering, “Wait a minute, I thought most critics called that plot laughably implausible.” Right, and that’s exactly the point in “I Spy.” While it’s not a strait spoof like “Austin Powers”, neither does it take itself as seriously as a 007. Instead, “I Spy” walks the fine line between spectacle-laden action and outright comedy. And lets face it, the corny dialogue and story lines in typical buddy-action flicks are a hair’s breadth away from farce anyway--“I Spy” (like the best of the genre) just takes it one step further by admitting it.

In a slight reversal from the 60’s television show, Owen Wilson plays an insecure secret agent who is less than thrilled at being paired up with obnoxious middleweight champ, Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy). Wilson and Murphy have great comic chemistry, and some of their funniest scenes feel like they may have been unscripted. Backing the duo up are sparkling performances by Famke Jansen as a seductive she-spy and the always underrated Gary Cole as Carlos, the latin-lover spy. Cole (much beloved by college students in such roles as Mike Brady in “The Brady Bunch Movie” and obnoxious boss Lumbergh in “Office Space”) is one of those rare character actors who consistently turns in superb, widely varying performances, leaving the audience whispering, “Where do I know that guy from?”

Another unique plus about this film is the way it skewers the polished spy persona. Instead of being dangerous and debonair, Wilson is openly love sick and a little clumsy. Not to mention he’s insanely jealous of another super-spy, something James Bond would never admit to.

This is not to say “I Spy” is a perfect movie—it does include a couple of tired bits and one gratuitous woman-in-her-underwear shot, but its endearing loopiness sets it squarely ahead of the pack. However, my biggest complaint against “I Spy” is, as always, the language. Its even more disappointing in this film because, without it, “I Spy” could have been a great family action movie. So few movie’s are capable of entertaining everyone from Mom and Dad to Bro and Sis, and while this film never could’ve been an Oscar winner, it could have provided families a fun evening out together …something a little hard to come by these days. If you have older teens, you might still make a go of it, but otherwise I’d wait for the edited TV version.

Viewer Comments
Positive—Hilarious movie, a must see if you are not overly concerned with some language and a couple of lewd scenes. Some of the best laughs I’ve had in ages.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Gary Blanc, age 41
Negative—My wife and I go to a LOT of movies—about 45 a year. This movie had more swearing per minute than any other movie we have ever seen!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 1½]
—Ron Reames, age 56
Positive—Took my children ages 13 and 10 to see I Spy. The movie was slow to begin, but I was pleasantly surprised by the way the movie picked up speed. I liked the chemistry between the 2 actors, if they would have cut out the swear words it would be a great movie, but the directors needed to make the boxer a tough guy. And for sexuality hardly any except for a brief shot of a women in her underwear, you see more skin on tv commercials.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—teresa heap, age 38
Positive—This movie was a surprise. With Eddie Murphy I expected the worse, Instead, I SPY ended up being pretty clean except for one implied sexual scene (which gets interrupted anyway) and a few minor curse words. The movie is funny and made the family laugh more than most comedies.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Christina Ring, age 33
Comments from young people
Neutral—This movie was a very funny movie. As usual Eddie Murphy did a great acting job and was extremely funny at the same time. Owen Wilson did a great job at his role as well, even though he was not as funny as Eddie. The only thing to object to in this movie was the non-stop language. I was surprised, sort of, that this much language would be allowed in a PG-13 movie. I guess that if the movie does not have more than one usage of the “f” word then the movie is rated PG-13, and every other word is permitted as many times as the script says the word is used. If you are not easily offended about the language then see this hilarious comedy.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Anon., age 154
Neutral—I went to see this movie not knowing anything about it (that never happens with me) with 2 of my older friends who really wanted to see it. I thought well, I like Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy, but it looks stupid, and I don’t really want to see the movie but ill go for my friends sake. it was so stupid!!!… I am a huge bond fan (this is a dumb excuse for a spoof) and this was worse than spy kids and that was a dumb movie. there wasn’t a lot of language but what Owen Wilson movie doesn’t have language, a poor plot, weak characters and off color comedy I don’t recommend this movie as an action flick. the only reason I’m not negative is because of all the times I laughed so hard…
My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
—jonny h., age 14
Positive—Pretty good movie, very funny! I liked it a lot. Very clean except for some cussing, but not too bad. I would recommend to anyone looking for a funny movie to watch!
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Nadia, age 15
Positive—This movie flopped at the box office, but I dunno why. It was so awesome! The acting between Murphy and Wilson was great, and the action was cool too. The movie wasn’t offensive at all, besides some violence. Also, the use of the “s” word was so overused it was comical. Great movie. Go see it. Now.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Tom LaMarco, age 12