Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


I Spy shows not all television classics can be movies

In 1965, producer Sheldon Leonard created a television drama about two spies who traveled the world in the name of espionage – Robert Culp (The Greatest American Hero) as tennis pro/playboy Kelly Robinson and Bill Cosby as Alexander Scott, Robinson’s trainer and partner. The show, not only dealt with the subject of spies and secret missions, but also with two partners of different races working together at a time in this country’s history when racial tensions were high.

In 2002, Betty Thomas (Private Parts, Dr. Doolittle) co-produced and directed an updated version of I Spy for the big screen, featuring comedian Eddie Murphy in Culp’s role as Robinson and Owen Wilson (Behind Enemy Lines, Shanghai Noon) as Scott. Also starring in the film is Malcolm McDowell (Clockwork Orange), playing arms dealer Arnold Gundars.

The adaptation has Robinson as an overconfident, narcissistic, Mike Tyson-type boxer who is undefeated as a professional, with slash marks on his right arm to show off his victories. Scott is a spy for the Bureau of National Security (BNS) who is sexually frustrated and has a bad habit of getting people killed. In return for his service, Scott is given the obsolete, big, and bulky spy equipment while his rival spy Carlos (Gary Cole) receives all of the James Bond, high tech gadgets. Both Carlos and Scott are engaged in a competition to win the heart of Special Agent Rachel Wright (Famke Janssen).

Gundars steals a top-secret fighter jet, code-named , from the United States Air Force and flies it to Budapest, where he plans on selling it on the black market. Scott is sent to recover the plane and stop Gundars from selling it. The BNS discover Gundars’ love of boxing and enlists Robinson’s aid to help Wilson track down the missing plane.

Robinson has to defend his title in Budapest with Scott disguised as one of his trainers. Wright, already overseas, uses Scott’s sexual frustration to prevent him from learning where the plane is and to fulfill his mission.

Those who have seen the original “I Spy” television show will undoubtedly notice that the film and the movie have nothing to do with each other. The story is good, but the movie deviates for most of the time, focusing more on Scott and Robinson trying to click and work together, rather than solving the problems of finding the plane and Gundars. The car chases and special effects have all been done before. Anything more updated would be featured in Die Another Day.

The ending is confusing. The audience scratched their heads as to who was a good spy and who was a bad spy. The one highlight of Murphy’s comedy is when he decides to bring back his Stevie Wonder impression that he had previously performed on “Saturday Night Live.”

This is Betty Thomas’ third attempt at a remake. Before this movie, she directed The Brady Bunch Movie and the Rex Harrison classic Dr. Doolittle. If she wants to be a credible director in Hollywood, she needs to direct original stories and screenplays, as she did with Howard Stern’s biography, Private Parts.

I Spy gets two hoots out of five. Catch it when it comes out on video or cable television. Watch it on the big screen only if Harry Potter is sold out.

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