Making the Grades
While the U.S. Congress debates military spending, movie producers seem to have found a way to solve the budget crisis. Instead of using highly trained government personnel in matters of intrigue, they take a civilian off the street, outfit him with the latest techno gadgets and then send him off to avert world destruction. Think Xander Cage in XXX, Jimmy Tong in The Tuxedo and even Carmen and Juni Cortez in Spy Kids.
It's a premise that gets harder to believe all the time.
Now I Spy, loosely based on the 1960s television show, stars Eddie Murphy as a self-absorbed, foul-mouthed boxer who is recruited to help recover a stolen Stealth. His character Kelly Robinson is an undefeated world-class athlete who teams up with Alex Scott (Owen Wilson) from the Bureau of National Security. It is hardly a match made in heaven and before long a battle of wills develops between the two men.
Traveling to Europe, they use Robinson's upcoming boxing match as a cover for their guarded operation. Because the plane is virtually invisible to radar and the human eye, they must plant a bug on the crime's prime suspect Arnold Gundars (Malcolm McDowell). Convinced that he'll sell his wares to the world's highest bidder, the secret agent and middleweight champ wait for the thief to lead them to the missing merchandise.
In the meantime, the ostentatious Robinson discovers Scott's attraction to their tall and leggy colleague Rachel (Famke Janssen) during a revealing discussion in the Hungarian sewer. Using their spy issued eyeball cameras and a listening device, he coaches Scott along in his attempt to bed the dark-haired spy.
With previous experience in the world of one-liners, Murphy and Wilson bring an often well-paced chemistry to this action/comedy. Unfortunately, when the jokes aren't flying, bullets are. Repeated automatic gunfire, exploding cars and an electrocution scene fill in the spaces between wisecracks. The movie also packs in nearly 100 profanities, blatant sexual innuendoes and numerous threats to body parts. That leaves this script littered with content issues that gives I Spy a solid TKO in the family-viewing ring.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about I Spy.
With Scott’s relative lack of experience and success in the field, is it reasonable that the government would send him to recover their most secretive and expensive spy plane? How difficult would it have been to disguise Carlos instead?
What was Robinson’s attitude toward women? On the other hand, how did Scott first react when the boxer encouraged him to make the moves on Rachel? Which mind-set would make for a more lasting relationship?