Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5  
I-Spy (2003)
12

The words "starring Eddie Murphy" instil fear. "Metro", "Showtime", "Pluto Nash"... all too horrible to contemplate.

Perhaps it's his track record that makes this adaptation of Bill Cosby's 60s spy show all the more enjoyable. It's a welcome shock: a good Eddie Murphy movie.

Murphy is Kelly Robinson, a world champion boxer who - for reasons too unlikely to go into - is teamed with Owen Wilson's spy on a mission to recover a stolen plane.

It's buddy-buddy Bond, as they spar and then sleuth - helped by former 007 squeeze Famke Janssen.

Unfortunately, the action in this action-comedy is never near Bond's standards. There's no sense of danger, and when Wilson does shoot people, it's almost shocking because of the light-hearted tone.

It's a good job, then, that the comedy delivers. The central pairing is hilarious. Wilson's excellent as the whiny, wan agent always lumbered with second-hand gadgets and troublesome assignments, while Murphy rediscovers the cocky strut of "Beverly Hills Cop" - his character a mix of foolish pride and charming idiocy.

Sure, the strokes are broad and the laughs sometimes crude (Murphy: "I'm gonna be 009 and a half"), but laughs they are, and belly ones at that. The "Cyrano de Bergerac"-style scene where Murphy talks Wilson through a seduction with the help of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" will have you choking on your popcorn.

With a zippier story this could have been special. As it is it's disposable dumb fun. And there's nothing wrong with that.

End Credits

Director: Betty Thomas

Writer: Marianne Wibberley, Cormac Wibberley, Jay Scherick, David Ronn

Stars: Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Famke Janssen, Malcolm McDowell, Gary Cole, Phill Lewis, Viv Leacock

Genre: Comedy, Thriller

Length: 96 minutes

Cinema: 24 January 2003

Country: USA

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