I Spy
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG-13 // $27.94 // March 11, 2003
Review by Ron J. Epstein | posted March 1, 2003
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Graphical Version
"Bite her on the ass!"

The Feature:
I can't believe they got my letters. For years now, I've been writing to Columbia Tri-Star requesting they find a project that finally combines the comedic talents of the definitely-not-past his prime Eddie Murphy, and Owen Wilson. At last, my prayers have been answered, as I get the chance to review "I-Spy." I'm sorry I had to start off this review with that overly sarcastic statement, but aside from "The Nutty Professor", Eddie Murphy hasn't been in a funny movie in years. Unfortunately for us, "I-Spy" doesn't help to break his streak.

Meet Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy). He is the Heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He's cocky and always refers to himself in the third person. Now meet Alexander Scott (Owen Wilson). He's not exactly by-the-book, but he definitely plays the straight man to Robinson's brash character. They are paired up to stop the "evil bad guy who wants to rule the world du jour" Gundars (Malcolm McDowell). Simple enough, right?

The plot of the movie is completely inconsequential, as you know how it will end before you're even three minutes into it. Murphy and Wilson do show signs of chemistry at times, unfortunately, "I-Spy" as brings out that dreaded movie cliché involving the "white guy who gets lessons in hip by his black partner", as Wilson tries to woo Famke Janssen's character. Wilson is likeable, and to a certain extent, so is Eddie Murphy. The only problem is that they're not particularly funny… just likeable.

Video:
Columbia Tri-Star presents "I-Spy" in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 and Full Frame 1.33:1. Through the menu, you can toggle which format you prefer. The transfer is very good, with flesh tones looking true to life. The special effects look pretty good as well. There's very little grain, and virtually no artifacting.

Audio:
The audio is presented here in Dolby 5.1 Surround and French 2.0. Everything sounds very good, as the movie certainly takes advantage of the 5.1 setup at times (the boxing scenes sound particularly good, as well as gunshots). There are no audio dropouts present, and the dialogue is clean.

Menus:
Interactive DVD menu with scenes from the movie offers the choices of "Play Movie", "Audio Set Up", "Subtitles", "Scene Selections", "Special Features", and "Trailers."

Extras:
The first extra is a commentary from director Betty Thomas, editor Peter Teschner, producer Jeno Topping, and writers David Ronn and Jay Scherick. They have a good time commenting on screen specific happenings, offering fun bits of technical information as well as funny set stories (they don't taking themselves too seriously, which is a good thing).

Also thrown in are several featurettes (four in total, each with a running time of less than five minutes). There's a few trailers also included, one for "Adaptation", "Blue Streak", "Formula 51", "National Security", and "Punch Drunk Love."

Final Thoughts:
Okay, this is a tough one. The movie is not that bad, but on the flip side, it's not good. The audio and video presentations are very good, but aside from the commentary and fluff featurettes, there isn't much meat to this release. Therefore, I'll suggest a rental and let you decide for yourself.



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