Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

The Spy Next Door


Review by Mark David Campbell

The economy being what it is, taking my daughter to movies is a relatively inexpensive way to kill time on the weekend.  I feel a strong sense of fatherly pride when I see that she is becoming like her father: an ardent movie buff.  Though her writing style could use some polish, I have no doubt that in 10-15 years from now, she might be posting well-written reviews on this or some other forum.

Sadly, the only movies I can really take her to see without getting withering looks from my spouse are kids’ movies, which means I have to endure a lot of really bad movies, with little or no intelligence or thought behind them.  Or, in the case of The Spy Next Door, some really REALLY bad ones.

I’ve also sat through, over the years, a lot of Jackie Chan movies, many of which are indistinguishable from each other.  He’s a good guy, using his martial arts acumen to beat up scores of bad guys using his hands, feet and whatever inanimate objects happen to be in the vicinity.  But Spy Next Door doesn’t even give us that, as the fight scenes were clearly done by stunt doubles, proving once in for all that time has finally caught up with our favorite Asian action funnyman (who is now 55 years old).

Chan plays Bob Ho, a Chinese agent on loan to the CIA, who quits the game so he can marry his girlfriend/neighbor (Amber Valletta), and play nanny to her three kids, who don’t much care for him.  We get a lot – too much, really – of half-assed attempts by Chan to use his tricks to cope with the Herculean act of babysitting, and the infuriatingly infantile attempts by the kids to try to make his life hell.

But when one of the kids accidentally downloads a top-secret formula, Chan must spring into action when his old nemesis (Magnus Scheving, with the least convincing Russian accent ever) comes calling.  A few of the fight sequences, particularly ones that involve the kids, are almost palatable, but not nearly enough for me to recommend this film.  Not by a long shot.  A pox on director Brian Levant (who also did the atrocious Jingle All the Way), for putting this poorly-edited, lifeless crap into theaters. 

And if you’re wondering how my daughter liked the film?  Well, she’s seven, and even she barely liked it.  What does THAT tell you?   I can only hope that Tooth Fairy is better than this, because we’ve a long way to go before Toy Story 3 comes out, and I need to get the taste out of my mouth.

1 / 5 stars

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