Substandard secret agent Alex Scott is paired with cocky boxing champ Kelly Robinson to recover a missing government weapon known as The Switchblade. Can they recover the weapon, stop the baddies, and get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… I Spy. Also test your super-spy powers with the quiz!)
What?! Alex Scott is a bumbling stumbling spy ready to make his mark (a real Patrick type character). When a secret government weapon called The Switchblade is stolen, Alex is teamed with a cocky boxing champ with an oversized ego, Kelly Robinson (a real Jamie type character). With this Jamie and Patrick type team of super spies assembled they head to Hungary where it’s rumored that a terrorist baddy is trying to sell the weapon (a real Tolstoy type character). Through the fame of Kelly Robinson they are able to infiltrate the bad guy’s hideout and plant a tracking device on the terrorist, but nearly get caught and have to escape. The next morning they track the terrorist to a turkish bath, but it turns out to be a trap (oh no!) and Alex’s lady love is tragically killed. Angry and despondent, Kelly Robinson heads to his boxing match while Alex continues to track the weapon. He is able to find it hidden in plain sight through advanced cloaking technology, but is captured in the showdown with the terrorists (classic Patrick). In a giant twist it turns out his lady love didn’t actually die but was a traitor in league with the bad guy (what a twist!). When all seems lost Kelly Robinson (in a real Jamie move) comes to rescue and they are able to recover the weapon, albeit in the most stumbly bumbly way possible. Credits roll and we are promised a spy franchise to laugh and cry with for the next decade. THE END.
Why?! I mean… I guess it’s just Alex’s job so he has to try to stop the terrorist. He does have some hang ups about being considered a second rate spy and feels like he has something to prove in order to get with the lady spy he’s crushing on. As for Kelly he’s mostly just an egomaniac that wants a parade. Finally, the bad guy wants to sell The Switchblade for cash monies plain and simple. In fact, even after being informed that the weapon will be used by its buyer to drop a bomb on Washington DC he kinda just shrugs. He don’t care as long as he gets that cash.
What?! MacGuffin alert! The entire conceit of the film is the recovery of a super secret government plane nicknamed The Switchblade. It also has a cloaking device that makes it nearly invisible to the naked eye. While it is unclear why a plane would need that given they are detected with everything but the naked eye, the bad guys still seem pretty jazzed for it, so must be good and definitely not dumb.
Who?! I could talk about all the boxing related celebs that had cameos in this film, such as Sugar Ray Leonard, but I’m much more interested in the fact that the actual Mayor of Budapest made an uncredited appearance in this film. That is so perfect I feel like I should already give this film an A+ for setting. Oh, and the IMDb trivia claims Will Ferrell voiced a faux George W. Bush in a scene, but he is not credited or uncredited anywhere that I can find… so is it real? Can’t say.
Where?! Hungary, duh. 80% of the film takes place there and some major landmarks take center stage. A perfect grade A setting. Even more interesting are some of the minor settings such as our recently departed Monte Carlo and an opening that takes place in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is so rare that it’s very tempting just to use this film for that location too.
When?! I feel like some of our recent films has shaken my belief that the full setting for films are likely attainable as long as they aren’t purposefully obscured (a la The Tuxedo). But this film pulled me right back in. While there isn’t a huge amount of information available to place it, there is a newspaper where an article states that the baseball season has just opened and that the “three-time champ Yankees take up where they left off – winning.” This would place the events of the film around April 2, 2001. C+ as exact but obviously very hard to place.
Try to think of a film where you really liked the performances, but everything else in the film is cliched garbage. That’s this film. This was on the cusp of Eddie Murphy’s decline in Hollywood, but you still get a pretty solid, funny performance here (minus a couple politically incorrect jokes). Owen Wilson was really on the rise and certainly hits his comedic notes. Their dynamic worked and I think this film would have been successful if it weren’t for the fact that it was terrible. The plot is just bad and proceeds in a mundane, predictable way throughout. It seems almost like they thought “we have two superstars, don’t think too hard about the plot”… which is so on the nose I would actually believe that it happened. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! I Spy is a film that dreams big, planning and yearning for that series, a new Shanghai Noon for us Owen Wilson-heads to revel in. Sadly, the American people are idiots who can’t even bother to appreciate the gifts bestowed upon them. Pshaw, sad. Let’s get into it!
The Good – This is probably one of the later films in the Eddie Murphy filmography where his kind of arrogant charm works. And Owen Wilson is an equal delight. It makes the film go along at a solid enough clip, and Budapest is indeed rather beautiful. And Eddie Murphy boxing is … shockingly believable.
P’s View on the Preview – This was a settings film through and through, half the notes were about how they wanted to film in Budapest because you never see Budapest in films. And this is very Budapest, all the way down to the final scene on the Chain Bridge. The only other thing of interest to me was the television angle, but I didn’t get a chance to do the homework to watch an episode of the old series, so it is basically impossible to comment.
The Bad – Despite all of the good I’ve said thus far I, uh, … did not like this film. It is a zero laugh comedy. It doesn’t really use Famke Janssen well, and the entire thing feels like an episode of a television show, and not a particularly good one. The film just washes off of me like water off of a duck’s back … I’ll probably forget we watched it in a couple of weeks.
Welcome to Earf – I’m still trying to figure out where I want to put this, but since I don’t have much to talk about concerning this film well … at least I’ll explain it. Like Jamie’s Phantom Zone from his Submersion podcast, the intent is to go from I Spy to Here on Earth, but I want to do it from memory, and only going from BMT films. For I Spy you can got to (1) Norbit via Eddie Murphy to (2) Blended via Terry Crews to (3) Jack and Jill via Adam Sandler to (4) 88 Minutes starring Al Pacino to (5) Here on Earth starring Leelee Sobieski. Welcome to Earf I Spy!
The BMT – Blah. The film is basically boring. It has a television angle, a buddy cop angle, Eddie Murphy, it is a ports film, and a war film, and a spy film … and it isn’t really a good-bad movie for any of them. It doesn’t have the legs beyond being yet another piece in the eventual complete Eddie Murphy BMT filmography project.
StreetCreditReport.com – Didn’t get much notice in the 2002 lists, but I did find it on a list of the 30 worst spy films where it got 13th. We need to step up our game because on this excellent list we’ve only seen seven films, which is a shame.
As I said above I didn’t get to the homework (again). I do promise I’ll get better, this month is just a tad bit hectic. Cheerios,