The Spy Next Door

Directed by Brian Levant

Starring Jackie Chan, Billy Ray Cyrus, George Lopez, Amber Valletta, 1 Little Jimmy, 1 Princess, and 1 Little Tyke.

Questions run through your mind when you suffer through the exposition of any Jackie Chan movie.  Every single set up that is presented has to withstand more suspension of disbelief than any of his stunts.  How are we to accept that Chan, presented as an average everyday schlub who is not rich, good-looking and with a challenged command of the English language, is to be believed to be having a romantic entanglement with a hot mother of 3 who is 20 years his junior?  How are we to believe that a mother of 3 would instantly leave her kids to a man in his 50’s that is not part of the family because her Dad hurt his hip?  How are we to believe that Billy Ray Cyrus or George Lopez could ever pose as super spies?  Producers of Chan films should just put a Star Wars like scroll at the beginning of the movie with the last line reading “Just buy it, already.”

So, for sanity’s sake, we move on.  The action starts early.  Jackie does some action pyrotechnics and decides he’s going to retire.  This, of course, means he is going to spend the rest of the movie fighting bad guys as a super hero spy…while performing an Uncle Buck with the kids.  Only in this movie, Uncle Buck is a small, thin Asian who is dating mom.

What else to say?  The movie is a series of decent Chan maneuvers that kids who love Chaplin inspired action will love and parents who like the same will tolerate.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Chan is a treasure of the action-movie world.  He allows adults and children to enjoy his still amazing stunt abilities coupled with his ability to make it all look like luck.  To ponder it further would be a disservice to you, Chan, and me.

So I conclude with my definitions:

“Little Jimmy” –  Any time some kid in the movie has an ability to do something, like hack computers, that adults are either too busy to notice or, if they do notice, can do nothing but gawk at the kid’s brilliance.  In this movie, his hacking of a top-secret file lead to this, with a boy the Princess was interested in…

“Princess” – The older sister, are always interested in some boy at school who, of course, is no good for her.  Usually bothered by Little Jimmy or…

“Little Tyke” – Youngest, can be boy or girl.  Usually has an obsession with something, say, pink.  And also has dominion over the family pet, in this case, a pig or cat.  The Little Tyke is always the first to see the person with a secret identity in action.  Take this as an example:

The Spy Next Door also has the strangest use of the Wilhelm scream I have ever seen during a fight in the back yard, when the Fabio-looking guy gets hurled over a rather small fence:

(**1/2 out of *****)

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