Movie News

The Spy Next Door

The Spy Next Door

By Brian Orndorf

There was a time around a decade ago when it seemed Jackie Chan would’ve done anything for a blockbuster career in America. The paychecks for the “Rush Hour” films were sweet, but “The Tuxedo” arrived in 2002 and knocked the wind out of Chan’s goofball sails. “The Spy Next Door” feels like the long aborted next step to his once excitable career plan, furthering him down a path of dreary, by-the-numbers action entertainment that merely requires Chan to stand in front of the camera, smile, flip, and mangle the English language.

Bob Ho (Jackie Chan) is an international superspy hot on the trail of Russian terrorist Poldark (Magnus Scheving), announcing this arrest will be his last job bustin’ bad guys. Looking forward to a peaceful life with neighbor/girlfriend Gillian (Amber Valletta), Bob learns he must win over her three children (Madeline Carroll, Will Shadley, and Alina Foley) before any marriage plans could be considered. When Gillian leaves town on a medical emergency, it’s up to Bob to babysit the kids, learning the depths of their disapproval the hard way as he tries to stay one step ahead of their pranks and troublemaking while maintaining his cover as a mild-mannered pen salesman. However, all bets are off when Poldark breaks out of prison, out to get Bob and execute his nefarious plans to manipulate the world’s oil supply.

Admittedly, I’ve never been an admirer of Jackie Chan. Finding the majority of his pictures excruciatingly one-note and always unfunny, Jackie Chan has always registered as a baffling figure of cult admiration, with the majority of his fame coming more from his bruising martial-art ways than any substantial presentation of compelling storytelling. “The Spy Next Door” doesn’t challenge the stagnant Chan legacy in the least, instead leaning on the actor’s established moves to erect another action-comedy, though this round has been molded especially for the wee ones.

Taking the enormous grosses for Vin Diesel’s “The Pacifier” as gospel, “The Spy Next Door” reworks the tough-guy-as-nanny routine for Chan’s special way with choreography and slapstick, bringing notoriously robotic family filmmaker Brian Levant (“Snow Dogs,” “Are We There Yet?,” “Jingle All the Way”) in to oversee the silliness. Levant directs as expected: obviously and obnoxiously, shining as bright a spotlight as possible on Chan’s established persona. While the laughs are nonexistent and the film generally creates more of a headache than a feeling of moviegoing satisfaction, I was taken aback by the dusty routine of it all. Levant just runs through the paces with Chan, ticking off the comedy and brutality beats as if he were brainstorming a grocery list.

“The Spy Next Door” does provide the customary beatings and wire-enhanced action choreography Chan is known for. Now fiftysomething, Chan can’t quite muster the same thunderbolts of fist-forward firepower and gravity-defying wizardry as he once could, but the beloved performer engages in agreeable mayhem when the moment calls for it. A majority of the picture is devoted to Bob learning the ways of parenthood, through the rigors of breakfast preparation, dealing with wandering pre-schoolers, and confronting a particularly itchy tween with profound parental abandonment issues. Here, Chan works his mugging to 3-D lengths, delivering the domestic dumbbell routine with traditional bewilderment, following Levant’s unimaginative lead (which often includes cartoon sound effects) like an obedient puppy.

When the violence arrives, “The Spy Next Door” livens up some, giving nosepickers something to cheer on as Bob winds his way around the villains, using everyday objects and his cache of 007-inspired spy tools to thump around Poldark’s Russian brutes. It’s the same old Chan routine of 1-2-3 staging, only tweaked here with a distinct Hanna-Barbera tone that keeps “The Spy Next Door” safe for children, but less invigorating for Chan purists or, and God bless ‘em, parents forced to accompany their kids to this thing.

Indeed, the picture contains a moment where one of the Russians is smacked in the face with a door, resulting in some post-smash cross-eyes and the spitting of fake teeth. Take that as a test of your moviegoing patience. You could give 90 minutes of your life to a mummified, harebrained Jackie Chan effort, or perhaps the time would be better spent avoiding this lazy nonsense, therefore encouraging Chan to create something of actual artistic merit during his rare trips to Hollywood.

Blu-Ray Details and Extras

Considering it’s age, we’d expect nothing less than a nice, crisp, vibrant and colourful transfer – and we get that, plus an ear-loving DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack.

In addition to your ‘typical’ Jackie Chan Blooper Reel there’s two featurettes on the making of the, er, travesty.

Nothing much to recommend about this release, sorry.

Share this story!Share on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on PinterestDigg thisBuffer this pagePrint this pageShare on LinkedIn
(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)
Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Movie News

Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole. Loves David Lynch, David Fincher... actually, any filmmaker by the name of David.

More in Movie News

British actor Daniel Radcliffe poses for photographers on the red carpet as he arrives for the UK Premier of "Horns" in central London on October 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images ORIG FILE ID: 534575666

Daniel Radcliffe joins the FBI for Imperium

AshJul 31, 2015
"Star Wars: Rogue One" Logo

Sherlock actor boards new Star Wars

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015

What’s the hold up on Beverly Hills Cop 4?

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015

Batgirl in Batman v Superman!?

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015

Trailer : Room

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015

Watch Disney Pixar’s Lava here!

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015

Trailer : Black Mass

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015

Patricia Arquette doing new Troll movie

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015

Trailer : 6 Years

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015