Director: Brian Levant
Cast: Jackie Chan, Billy Ray Cyrus, George
Lopez, Lucas Till, Amber Valletta, Madeline Carroll, Alina Foley,
Katherine Boecher, Will Shadley
RunTime: 1 hr 29 mins
Released By: GV
Official Website: http://www.thespynextdoorfilm.com/
Day: 14 January 2010
Lionsgate's family action comedy "The Spy Next Door"
stars Jackie Chan as Bob Ho, an undercover CIA superspy who
decides to give up his career in espionage to settle down
with his next-door neighbor and girlfriend, Gillian (Amber
Valletta). But Bob has one more mission to complete before
Gillian agrees to marry him: winning over her three opinionated
Gillian suddenly has to leave town, Bob volunteers to babysit
the children so he can earn their approval. But when one of
the kids mistakenly downloads a top-secret formula from his
computer, Bob's archenemy, a Russian terrorist, moves in for
the attack, forcing Bob to juggle the roles of spy and prospective
stepfather in the most challenging mission of his career!
You know something is amiss with "The Spy Next Door" when:
One: The opening montage is made up of footages from past Jackie Chan's movies such as Operation Condor, Rush Hour and The Tuxedo.
Two: The main character in director Brian Levant's 2005 movie, "Are We There Yet" tries to win over her date by bringing her children on a road trip and in "The Spy Next Door", Jackie's character Ben Ho tries to win over her date by offering to babysit her children. Spot the similarity?
Three: Damn! This movie has kids, a tough male lead and espionage. Vin Diesel's "The Pacifier"?
Asia's number one action superstar, Jackie Chan plays Ben Ho, a Chinese superspy on loan to the CIA who is giving up his career in favour of settling down with his girlfriend, Gillian (Amber Valletta). But first the man must win over Gillian's three children in which he offers to babysit when Gillian has to suddenly leave town. When one of the kids accidentally downloaded a villain's top-secret formula from Ho's computer, chaos arises and Ho must rise to the occasion as prospective stepfather and superspy.
Even if this is touted as a family-friendly action comedy, it's not an excuse for the scriptwriters to come with lame-brained and half-fried comedy setups. You can virtually smell of what will happen next with gags such as Ho fumbling with his culinary skills and his awkward ways of trying to blend in with Gillian's children. It's sad to see our favourite action hero being reduced to a charmless clown despite his infamous expertise in action comedy. While his past movies genuinely showcase the man's agility and humour, "The Spy Next Door" is a zombie-walk on role for Chan.
Though Chan is the main star of this movie, his exceptional martial-arts skills is surprisingly ignored with much of the action sequences being too cartoony and much tamer than his own cartoon series, Jackie Chan Adventures. His choreography skills seem to suffer from lack of creativity especially in his Hollywood productions and its pretty apparent here. Besides that, some really 'bright' executives must have assumed that it's going to be a selling point having Jackie dueling with a teenager, Lucas Till (Hanna Montana the Movie) in a Chinese restaurant and with a whole bunch of Russian villains that falls, slips and crashes conveniently (comically if you prefer) like crash test dummies.
In recent years, children oriented action flicks such as "Spy Kids" relies heavily on cute gadgets, wondrous special effects while "Stormbreaker" and "Agent Cody Bank" has a decent prior targeted teenage demographics to pull in the crowds, "The Spy Next Door" falls embarrassingly into neither of these. I doubt the younger crowd will find a 56 years old man that entertaining let alone the less than appealing humor bits. The adults will surely give this a miss given that Chan himself gave an unenthusiastic performance.
Credit however got to give to those young actors who played Gillian's kids especially the youngest daughter, Nora who I must say is quite a scene-stealer with her cute antics. This is like a rehash of Jackie's "Rob-B-Hood" but with lesser fun and chemistry with the cast. America's most famous dad, Billy Ray Cyrus and America's favourite Mexican comedian, George Lopez rounds up the rest of the cast members in this insanely half-baked action caper.
To conclude, all I can say is the best stunt Chan ever pulled here was he actually signed up for this silly kiddy flick. If he is trying to use his fat payslip to accumulate more funds for his Asian productions, he has forgotten he has Chinese audience that will pay to see him in action. Well intention, wrong execution.
are better off watching Jackie Chan touting shampoo on TV.
It’s above all, free)
Review by Linus Tee