The Spy Next DoorBy Karen Wilson
MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of action violence and some mild rude humor
Genre: Action/Adventure, Comedy
Release Date: January 15, 2010
Running Time: 1 hour and 32 minutes
Plot Synopsis: Super spy Bob Ho, who is on loan to the CIA from the Chinese Secret Service, is ready to give up his double life to settle down with his girlfriend, Gillian. Unfortunately, Gillian's three kids, Farren, Ian and Nora, all despise Bob; they think is a boring, geeky pen company executive. When Gillian goes out of town for a few days, Bob offers to step in to babysit, and with the help of his spy skills he turns their humdrum routine around.
Sex/Nudity: Bob and Gillian kiss but it's more affectionate than passionate. Bob's nemesis, Poldark has an evil super spy girlfriend but they mock each other more than love each other. Farren finds fellow teenager Larry attractive until she discovers he's a Russian spy sent to kill Bob. Ian talks about liking girls but is inept around them.
Violence/Gore: A lot of hand-to-hand fighting, bodies being thrown around and knocked out. Some gun play but without blood, shooting through objects rather than people. Gillian slaps Bob when she discovers he's a spy and her children have been in danger.
Which Kids Will Like It?
Middle school aged boys and younger should enjoy the action sequences while tween girls should enjoy the family drama along with the amazing acrobatics on display.
Will Parents Like It?
Most adults in the audience with their families should appreciate Jackie Chan's wise words, "spying is easy; parenting is hard." Parents should enjoy Chan's performance since he makes working this hard look so easy.
Kaboose Review: Training with the Peking Opera School in acrobatics and martial arts beginning when he was six years old and performing on screen from the age of eight, Jackie Chan has been clowning around for nearly his entire life. As an actor and choreographer, he combines acrobatic prowess with unique props and death-defying stunts in scenes that make audiences gasp and laugh out loud. In recent years, Chan has transitioned from adult thrillers into children's entertainment, a perfect fit for his goofy, cuddly persona. His new movie, The Spy Next Door pairs him with three adorable child actors and he's completely believable scaling walls or bonding with the kids.
Many of Chan's most famous movie roles have been as law enforcers, from the Police Story series that he did in Hong Kong to the Rush Hour movies made here in the States. The opening sequence of The Spy Next Door alludes to Chan's illustrious adult movie career showing footage of the star in his younger days beating up bad guys and racing on motorcycles. While Chan isn't as lithe as he once was (no more leaping from moving vehicles onto other moving vehicles), for a sixty-six year-old he's still impressive. The movie ends with a typical Chan trope, the outtakes reel. Watching these flubbed scenes, you realize how much Chan and his fellow performers did in each take and how easy they made it look, from standing up a folding chair with his foot to turning a refrigerator into a shield against two bad guys.
The movie's plot line about an evil Russian spy with a secret formula to dissolve oil and a mole inside the CIA are inconsequential and sort of lame in relation to the movie's acrobatics and fight scenes. Country star-turned Disney actor Billy Ray Cyrus, former supermodel Amber Valetta and comedian George Lopez round out the cast but their contributions range from nominal to completely forgettable. Fortunately the young actors playing Amber Valetta's kids are at least worthy foils to Chan. At first they hate his character because they think he's completely boring and a geek. But as Bob shows them his spy related time saving tricks around the house and finally reveals that he can demolish bad guys with a carefully placed round house kick, the kids warm to him. No wonder, he's likable and fierce, protective and loving. You'll leave the theater wanting to make Jackie Chan a part of your family too.
Directed by: Brian Levant
Cast: Jackie Chan (Bob Ho), Amber Valetta (Gillian), Madeline Carroll (Farren), Will Shadley (Ian), Alina Foley (Nora), Billy Ray Cyrus (Colton James), George Lopez (Glaze), Magnus Scheving (Poldark), Lucas Till (Larry)
Poster image courtesy of Lionsgate.
Karen Wilson is a freelance writer living in New York City.