THE SPY NEXT DOOR, 2010
Former CIA spy Bob Ho (Chan) takes on his toughest assignment to date: looking after his girlfriend's three kids, who haven't exactly warmed to their mom's beau. And when one of the youngsters accidentally downloads a top-secret formula, Bob's longtime nemesis, a Russian terrorist, pays a visit to the family.
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Most of the entertainment from this picture comes at the end as the gag reel provides some funny moments, most of which was missing from this rather cartoonish film with plenty of stunts but no laughs. Jackie Chan is a great stunt man. He’s proven that in many of his films and while there is some exciting stunt work here, it’s simply not enough to motivate anyone to see this absolute failure.
Clearly the picture is targeted to kids, and it is family friendly. If there is one thing they got right on the list of “things to get right” is they hit the family market. However, that doesn’t mean that parents, or more importantly children will enjoy it. There is no reason why a kid’s movies need to dumb down the dialogue, action, or even the characters for the benefit of the children watching.
If anything Pixar has proven that as long the story is strong and the creators avoid talking down to its audience, kids and adults can enjoy the picture together. Another film that suffered the same tragic path as The Spy Next Door is Are We There Yet starring Ice Cube. Both films are difficult to enjoy because you’re watching something that is more concerned with getting easy laughs from uninspired slapstick comedy routines than they are about telling compelling stories with engaging and likeable characters.
As the story goes, a former CIA agent has to protect a group of kids who know valuable information about a secret formula one of the kids downloaded. The people pursuing them are dangerous secret operative who seek to gain the information. Despite its interesting premise, that is unfortunately where the novelty runs out and we’re left with nonsensical jokes, nonsensical action – none of which any entertaining – and unwatchable acting performances.
Also if you’ve seen the Ice Cube film I mentioned earlier or any kid comedies over the years, then there’s really no reason to take your kids out to see this especially if The Princess and the Frog is still out. There are even better family films out on DVD that you can rent. Even if they’ve already seen it, see it again.
The simple plot of The Spy Next Door has the clichéd formula of most kid friendly comedies. A man marries or is dating someone with kids, the kids hate him, they make his life terrible until a dangerous situation emerges which brings them together forcing the kids to reevaluate their treatment of the new man in their life. If you’ve seen the Pacifier, then you’ve seen The Spy Next Door.
Jackie Chan if anything showed that he can still perform action stunts, and while he may be getting a bit rusty (seeing how it’s about 20 years since he started actions pictures) there is still some of the old super cop in him. Some of his action sequences are fun and kids will without a doubt enjoy watching them, in fact, some may even enjoy the film. But remember, this is also supposed to be for the family and I doubt any parent will really enjoy it as much as their four year old, who may or may not like it.