The Spy Next Door Review

Published 4 years ago by

Short Version: If you have pre-teen kids, they’ll probably have a great time watching the action and humor in The Spy Next Door – and it’s enjoyable enough for parents, too.

the spy next door header The Spy Next Door Review
Screen Rant’s Paul Young reviews The Spy Next Door

My expectations weren’t very high going into the theater to watch The Spy Next Door – but since my 7 year old daughter seemed excited to watch it, I figured I’d take her and go tough it out. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the movie is actually pretty good. Sure it has a ridiculous plot, over-the-top bad guys with bumbling henchmen and second rate secondary characters played by former country singing, mullet wearing, fathers of a pre-teen Disney show – but it also manages to stay on task by keeping the story consistent and coherent enough for children to follow.

The movie opens with a great montage of Chan doing spy work all around the world – but to the discerning eye, it’s a great collection of scenes from Chan’s previous films. I couldn’t keep up with all of them but I saw scenes from Rush Hour, The Medallion, The Tuxedo, New Police Story, The Accidental Spy, Who Am I?, Mr. Nice Guy, Operation Condor, and Supercop. I’m sure there were a bunch I missed, but as a long time Jackie Chan fan it was a great surprise to have those scenes thrown at me.

Chan is Bob Ho, an international super spy on loan to the CIA from the Chinese government to help track down and catch the Russian terrorist Poldark (Mangus Scheving) before he can cause worldwide chaos. Ho’s partner is Colton James (Billy Ray Cyrus) and with his help and a bunch of spy gadgets, they capture Poldark at an oil refinery.

Soon thereafter, Poldark escapes with the help of his beautiful and dangerous 2nd in command Creel (Katherine Becher). Poldark has surrounded himself with the classic bumbling bad guys for support. They never do anything correctly the first time, and can be easily outsmarted by a 4 year old girl; it’s exactly the kind of bad guy children love to see on screen.

After capturing Poldark the first time, Ho decides to retire from spying to try and have a normal relationship and a normal life. In this case, normal would be falling in love with his single mom neighbor, Gillian (Amber Valletta), but she comes with “baggage” in the form of her three kids , Farren , Ian,  and Nora. In order to marry Gillian, Ho must first be accepted by her kids, a task that makes spying look easy.

the spy next door pic 1 The Spy Next Door Review

Ian and Nora are Gillian’s kids by birth but Farren is her step-daughter, something Farren uses as an excuse to unleash a fair amount of disrespectful and defiant behavior towards her. Farren’s father left them unexpectedly, and instead of being mad at him, Farren is mad at Gillian. It’s a classic example of pre-teen angst in that situation and unfortunately it happens more often than it should in real life. Ian is a brainiac, nerdy kid that gets wedgies and has his head shoved into trash cans at school, while Nora is an adorable little girl that loves pink and dressing up like a princess.

When Gillian suddenly has to go out of town for a family emergency, Ho volunteers to stay with the kids to try and get them to like him. He finds his spy skills coming in very handy trying to keep up with them as he prepares breakfast, takes them to school and goes shopping at the mall. After a while (as expected), Farren learns to respect him, Ian finds him cool and Nora, well she loved him from the get-go.

Meanwhile, Poldark is busy working on a bacteria formula that will eat anything petroleum-based and he plans to use it on the world’s oil reserves, which would leave Russia as the sole supplier of the world’s oil. Like I said, a ridiculous plot, but it serves its purpose just fine here because of course the formula was stolen and sent to Ho and then taken in error by Ian. Now the bad guys want their formula back and they send hit man to retrieve it from Ho.

This is where the action scenes come into play and even though there is some wire work being done, Chan once again proves why he is the go-to guy for martial arts comedy.  Each scene is masterfully choreographed and director Brian Levant does a good job of pulling the camera back so that the audience can fully appreciate the work Chan does.  My favorite fight scene is in the backyard by the pool where Chan fights off three bad guys while a scared four year old grips tightly to his leg. Truly amazing.

The Spy Next Door has a decent wrap up to the story where Ho gets the girl, Poldark gets arrested and the kids get to use spy gear to help make it happen.

This movie works because of Jackie Chan’s ability to entertain with humor through his acting and action scenes. So if you’re looking for something to take your pre-teen to this week that is not a cartoon and doesn’t have CGI chipmunks as the main characters, then you should consider The Spy Next Door.  I know my 7 year old was giggling and laughing the whole time and for that very reason, The Spy Next Door should be considered a success.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5
(Good)

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TAGS: 3 star movies, the spy next door

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  1. @Paul

    Thanks for the review. My daughter (8) wants to see it so I'll probably take her this coming weekend. I love jackie Chan as well, so it is good to know it is a fun movie.

  2. Im shocked. I thought this would be like a 1 star film. Jackie can be pretty good still so good for him

  3. It sounds LikeThe Pacifier.

  4. Wait… you went to see this?

    And gave it a solid THREE??

    Im joshing with you, movies are subjective. And I havent seen it yet, so who knows, maybe its actually pretty good

  5. Yeah I judge movies based on their genre and this one was aimed at kids. Since it hit its mark quite nicely, I felt a good solid rating was in order.

  6. MY parents (50yrs old) went and saw this film on Sunday and they said it was really good.
    My parents are easily entertained by playful films so i didnt think much of it but a solid 3/5 from Screenrant has got me interested.
    I think i might go see this on Sunday as I too am a Jackie Chan fan. Actually, he is my favorite martial artist besides Bruce Lee.

  7. When Gillian suddenly has to leave town, Bob volunteers to babysit the children so he can earn their approval. But when one of the kids mistakenly downloads a top-secret formula from his computer, Bob’s archenemy, a Russian terrorist, moves in for the attack, forcing Bob to juggle the roles of spy and prospective stepfather in the most challenging mission of his career!.

  8. (Glad you guys finally posted a review here, I was starting to worry!)
    I love this movie! I always love Jackie's use of what's available for the fight scenes! His ladder work is always amazing (This & Shanghai Knights(?)) and the kitchen gives him a whole new set of props (spaghetti pot, fridge doors, cast iron pans)
    I told my friend this movie was a cross between “The Pacifier” and “Uncle Buck” – instead of a duck you've got “the pig, the cat, and the turtle.”
    I think Billy Ray got the best lines!!! (Not enough of him, in my mind!) Needs MORE Billy Ray!!!!!
    This gets logged in as “another great Jackie Chan movie”
    Oh yeah… the Russians reminded me of “Rocky & Bullwinkle” :-)
    (Her accent was hilarious – esp. the way she said “Chinese” –HA– luv it!)

  9. (Glad you guys finally posted a review here, I was starting to worry!)
    I love this movie! I always love Jackie's use of what's available for the fight scenes! His ladder work is always amazing (This & Shanghai Knights(?)) and the kitchen gives him a whole new set of props (spaghetti pot, fridge doors, cast iron pans)
    I told my friend this movie was a cross between “The Pacifier” and “Uncle Buck” – instead of a duck you've got “the pig, the cat, and the turtle.”
    I think Billy Ray got the best lines!!! (Not enough of him, in my mind!) Needs MORE Billy Ray!!!!!
    This gets logged in as “another great Jackie Chan movie”
    Oh yeah… the Russians reminded me of “Rocky & Bullwinkle” :-)
    (Her accent was hilarious – esp. the way she said “Chinese” –HA– luv it!)

  10. I thought this film was amazing I went with my dad who loved it my little brother who said it was so funny and my big brother who said it was one of the best films he has been to allot of people especially from different web sites have said the film is not that good if you think that you obviously don't no much about films I told all my friends about this and they thought it was brilliant I have been twice and loved both times the second time was with my mum and nan they thought it was amazing could watch it again but im going to wait until it is on DVD which is hopefully soon :D

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