THE SPY NEXT DOOR

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The Spy Next Door Cover OK. So this may be my more paranoid side speaking. But I do have a sneaking suspicion that my next door neighbor might be... you know.. one of those people. One of those special people who... you know... do stuff. Stuff seen in the following 94 minute movie made in 2010. It was Directed by: Brian Levant; and Starred: Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, with Billy Ray Cyrus.


The Spy Next Door


THE STORY:
Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Will you three children please settle down for a moment? Come now. Lets us try to remember that the only real reason I'm looking after you three is because your mother, Gillian (Amber Valletta), has been called away to take care of her frail father.

So listen up, kids. And listen up good. You, Little Nora (Alina Foley), for heavens sake please stop squirming about like a slippery snake. You, Farren (Madeline Carroll), please refrain from turning into Lindsay Lohan. And as for you, Ian (Will Shadley), never-never-never-never touch my computer and upload that file entitled 'Top Secret'. Cause if you do that, an evil Russian spy called Anton (Magnús Scheving) will be very unhappy about this. And he in turn will try his best to kick our collective asses by sending his legion of henchmen to... tr.. tr... trrrr?

Yes? What is it, Ian? Speak up you technical savvy teenager! Oh! I should have told you about that file earlier, should I? Ahhh-haaaa! I see. Fair enough. But then again, that's most probably why what next transpires all kicks off when Gilllain calls me up on the phone and says, 'Hi, Bob (Jackie Chan)! How are the kids doing?'. As paternal responsibility isn't easy for spies - this film is nothing like 'True Lies' - it's finally come time for a mother to lay down the law - and when push comes to shove, please be careful whose face you slam into that door.

BOOFFF!!!!




THE REVIEW:
Now according to the 'Variety' film critique, Lael Loewenstein, '"The Spy Next Door" is full of cartoonish jokes and misfired gags that were likely to elicit more eye rolls than laughs". Where as to Carrie Rickey from 'The Philadelphia Inquirer', 'The plot may be forgettable, but the execution is frantic and funny'. But as for yours truly on the other hand, well, as far as I'm concerned they're both right on the money. 'The Spy Next Door' is one of those films which should have concentrated more on the overall narrative, yet at the same time the 'action scenes' were one hell of a blast to watch.

The Spy Next Door Movie Poster
You see, one of the worst aspects about this adventure was how the first and last third of it was very 'one note' and 'Scooby Doo' in tone. The characters were generally one dimensional archetypes that only 'middle America' could relate to. The pretext was far too childish for a more adult-centric audience. And all in all the first forty-minutes or so relied heavily on happenstance and coincidence for my own liking.

However, once the kids eventually got the chance to become something more than just single faceted entities, both they and Jackie Chan himself really aided this piece as a 'family type movie'. Honestly, folks. It was just a joy to watch Jackie interacting with them. Plus it did help that the majority of the 'set pieces' were very well choreographed on screen.

Having said that though, from time to time there was rather a lot of wire-work and spewed silliness on show. And as I stated previously, it's tone was fairly 'light-hearted and obvious' at either end of the spectrum. Not really being able to redeem itself until it reached that scene where Jackie's character explained to Madeline's character about the true nature of family. 

Well, knowing Jackie's history like the way I've researched it in the past, I'd say there was a lot of truth behind this segment -- cause at a very early age he was sent to an orphanage by his two hard working parents, eventually finding a family amongst his piers and his familiars in the process. 

Sad, but true.


The Spy Next Door Starring Jackie Chan And Family


The Spy Next Door Starring Jackie Chan And Amber Valletta
Anyway. Before I get too sentimental, dear reader. I tell you what. How about we all now check out the following filmic-facts. (1) 'Lionsgate' first released this $28 million dollar production on the 15th of January, 2010, and managed to claw back $42.4 million dollars in the box office. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Spy Daddy' in Germany, 'Kung Fu Nanny' in France, and 'Double Mission' in Japan. (3) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout the American state of Albuquerque, New Mexico, as well as Presidio Park, San Diego. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, was, 'Spying is easy, babysitting is hard'. (5) It's been noted in the press that the actress / model / vegetarian, Amber Valletta, was worth 4 million dollars in 1998; and 8.8 million dollars in 1999. (6) When he was a child Jackie Chan was given the nick-name 'Cannonball -- ''Pao pao' in Chinese -- because he was thought of as being a very hyperactive youth. (7) That nice American chap who directed this adventure, Brian Levant, has also directed numerous children's movies such as 'Beethoven' and 'The Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas'. (8) 'Relativity Media' sponsored a well known photo-manipulation site -- called Worth 1000 -- to run a contest where people could create photo-realistic images of the world as if it were ruled by spies. And yes. These pictures were used in this movie. (9) During the opening montage sequence you will notice a number of inserts relating to Jackie Chan's other films, most notably, 'Operation Condor' and 'Rush Hour'.


The Spy Next Door Starring Jackie Chan And Princess


Overall I'd say 'The Spy Next Door' set out and accomplished exactly what it wanted to do in the first place. It has managed to insert Jackie into a wholesome family comedy, which was inane in places, dynamic in others, yet still was able to spin a bit of pathos into the proceedings here and there. Don't you agree our ever humble outtake montage sequence?




Err? I think that was a 'yes'. Nuff said. 

THE RATING: B