I was a big
fan of the Ď60s comedy I Spy. Watching
reruns, however, it doesnít hold up, except for the acting of Robert
Culp. The scripts are thin and Bill Cosby is wooden.
Cosby got all the Emmies, but Culp, one of the most underrated
and underused actors of his generation, did all the acting.
then, that the revival of I Spy, starring Eddie Murphy and OwenWilson
is based on a poorly written script (by Cormac and Marian Wibberly,
David Ronn and Dave Schenk; you know youíre in trouble when there
are four names given writing credit).
For some unknown, but probably politically correct, reason
African American Murphy plays Kelly Robinson, the jock, which was
Culpís role, and Caucasian Wilson plays Alexander Scott, Cosbyís
role. Cosby was an intellectual, but nobody picked up that role
because it required intelligent dialogue and you wonít find that in
comparisons: Culp could,
and did, act. He took
weak material and made the most of it.
Murphy and Wilson take weak material and donít do much, until
Murphy becomes funny in the last half hour.
The TV I Spyís success was the chemistry between Culp and
Cosby who vamped a lot and thatís what gave the show its charm.
Murphy and Wilson seem to stick pretty much to the horrible script,
and it shows.
The story is
pretextuous, something about a plane that can disappear that the
fictional BNS, the government agency for whom Scott works, wants.
Instead of both being government agents, Robinson is a boxer
(was originally an NBA player but for some reason this was changed)
and is coerced into helping Scott. There are some people who may, or may not, be double agents.
Thereís a put>
is an excuse for a lot of car chases and explosions and other things
upon which American films increasingly rely in lieu of good writing
and acting. This film was
directed by Betty Thomas, who started her career as a stunt
coordinator, which explains why itís filled with stunts at the
expense of content. The
TV I Spy was mostly talk. This
is mostly, uh, er, well, action, I guess.
some funny moments. Alas, they arenít enough.