The Spy Next Door
Don't you find children complete and utter b*stards? They moan all the time. They're lazy. They're moody. Plus whenever you drive them to school, one of these little devils want to sit up front in the passenger seat next to you!
Here, take recently retired super-spy, Bob Ho (Jackie Chan), for instance. Only the other day he offers to look after the three kids belonging to his gal-pal's, Gillian (Amber Valletta), because suddenly she's been called away to care for her frail father.
But do you think that these young imps make life easy for Bob? Ha! Like hell they do. Little Nora (Alina Foley) can't sit still for a single moment. Tech-savvy Ian (Will Shadley) keeps on lying at school, and getting himself into trouble. Plus Farren (Madeline Carroll) is so rebellious, she could give Lindsay Lohan a run for her money!
Still, it could be worse I suppose. Russian bad-guy, Anton Poldark (Magnús Scheving), could have devised a secret formula to corrode oil, and CIA operative, Colton James (Billy Ray Cyrus), could have sent it to Bob to have a look at it for him. Moreover, whilst Bob tries to tend to Gillian's brats, Tech-savvy Ian could have downloaded this file, prompting the Russian's to trail it back to its present location.
Well, that's most probably why what next transpires all kicks off when commitments collide! As paternal responsibilities aren't easy for spies - this film is nothing like 'True Lies' - a mother lays down the law - and when push comes to shove, please be careful who's face you slam into the door.
Now before I give you my spiel on 'The Spy Next Door', please allow me to present to you some filmic facts first. (1) This flick was release by 'Lionsgate' on
the 15th of
January, 2010, and to date has made $42,402,765 at the box office. Making it a marginal success. (2) It has been noted that actress / model /
vegetarian, Amber Valletta, was worth 4 million dollars in 1998; and 8.8
million dollars in 1999. (3) As a child Jackie Chan was given the nick-name
'Pao pao' [meaning 'Cannonball' in Chinese] because he was a very hyperactive
youth who rolled around all over the place. (4) The director of this adventure,
Brian Levant, has also directed such children's movies as 'Beethoven' and 'The
Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas', plus produced a couple of episodes of eighties
sit-com 'Mork and Mindy' too [click on link for review]. (5) The makers of this
film, 'Relativity Media', sponsored a well known photo-manipulation site, www.worth1000.com, to run a contest where
people could create photo-realistic images of the world as if it were ruled by
spies. (6) Miley's father, Billy Ray Cyrus, is a musician who plays the guitar
left-handed. (7) Near the beginning of this film you
could see an aerial view of the 'Potowatomi Bingo and Casino' in Milwaukee.
(8) The opening montage is comprised of a number of Jackie Chan 'spy' movies --
such as the 'Operation
Condor' and 'Rush
Hour' series of films [click on links for the reviews]. (9) 'Variety' film critique, Lael Loewenstein, didn't like this movie, saying that the 'cartoonish jokes and
misfired gags were likely to elicit more eye rolls than laughs'. Whereas Carrie
Rickey, who's a film critique on 'The Philadelphia Inquirer', wrote 'The
plot may be forgettable, but the execution is frantic and funny. The Spy
Next Door is a movie that will bring smiles to kids -- and their
Hey! Did you take note of point 9 of my trivia splurge? Relating to Laels and Carries opinions about this piece! Well, where I'm concerned, they're both right you know. 'The Spy Next Door' is one of those films which could have concentrated more on the plot, yet at the same time though that the 'action set pieces' were a blast to watch.
Here, let me explain to you what I mean by this in bullet-point form. (1) One of the worst aspects about this picture, was how the first half of it was very 'one note' and 'Scooby Doo' in nature. The characters were one dimensional. The pretext was too childish. And all in all the first forty-minutes or so relied heavily on happenstance and coincidence for my own liking. (2) Once the kids eventually got the chance to become something more than single faceted entities, I have to admit, that they really did aid this piece as a 'family movie'. Also, I loved Jackie's interaction with little Alina too. Honestly, it was just a joy to watch. (3) The majority of the 'set pieces' in this flick were very well choreographed by Jackie and his team. Admittedly, too much wire-work and a lot sillier than normal. Nonetheless, that is not to say that it was arduous on the eyes one little bit. (4) Although the ending and the majority of the beginning was just pants, there was a scene in this film that I felt really redeemed the overall movie because of the sentiment behind it. It was the part were Jackie's character was explaining to Madeline's character about the true nature of family, because knowing Mr Chan's history like I do, there was a lot of truth behind this segment than on the surface. You see, Jackie was sent to an orphanage by his parents at a very early age, and he did find a family amongst his piers and his familiars in the process. Sad, but true.
Overall I would have to say that 'The Spy Next Door' set out and accomplished exactly what it wanted to do in the first place. It set Jackie into a wholesome family comedy, which was inane in places, dynamic in others, yet still managed to spin a bit of pathos into the proceedings here and there. Don't you agree our ever loving outtake montage?
I think that was a yes.
THE RATING: B