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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

I Spy (review)

Teen boys and young men, the intended audience for this breathtakingly idiotic mess of an action flick, are unlikely to have even heard of the original 60s series, one of the few to escape endless syndication, so why was it necessary to besmirch the memory of a beloved classic like this? Moronic even on the dumb-action-movie scale, I Spy features stupid characters doing stupid things in Budapest, the locale of the moment for exotic intrigue. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see much of Budapest. Owen Wilson (Behind Enemy Lines), Eddie Murphy (Showtime), and Famke Janssen (Made) try their damnedest to be their usual charming selves, but they’re severely hobbled by a script that requires them, in turn, to be both razor-sharp and bungling (Wilson), overblown and subtle (Murphy), and naive and sophisticated (Janssen). And they’re all in the service of a U.S. national security agency that treats them with disdain for no reason beyond a stunningly unsuccessful attempt at humor. Even the characters who aren’t onscreen are stupid, like the entire population of Budapest, which seemingly fails to notice a massive explosion in the middle of the city. Or maybe, like smart moviegoers, they’d rather just ignore a bomb in their midst.


MPAA: rated PG-13 for action violence, some sexual content and language

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

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