For almost thirty-five years actor and filmmaker Jackie Chan has been entertaining audience's with his special blend of action and comedy but now the actor is trying his hand at anther type of comedy film genre, the family movie. Like actors Eddie Murphy, Vin Diesel and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson before him the actor is looking for box office gold in the realm of family fare. In The Spy Next Door Chan ads his action/comedy experience to the kid-friendly film and the result is a comedy marriage made in heaven. Why Chan has not tried this in the past, I don't know? It seems like a no-brainer, especially given the success so many other actors have had in this genre lately. It only makes sense that Chan would try this at this point in his career.
The actor, who has entertained several generations has always prided himself on doing his own stunts and lets be honest ... he's getting older. It must be tough for him to do everything that he used to on a film. He may not have the acting-chops that some have but he is a MOVIE STAR! He has that undeniable, likable quality so his talents cannot lie to waste. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does in the iconic role of Mr. Miyagi in the remake of "The Karate Kid," a part Chan seems born to play. However, in The Spy Next Door Chan is able to use that remarkable charm of his to win over the audience and make you believe in this otherwise somewhat implausible film.
In the movie, Chan plays Bob Ho, a seemingly mild-mannered suburban house owner who is secretly a CIA operative on loan from the Chinese Government. After his final mission Ho retires from the CIA so he can settle down, spend more time with his new girlfriend and live a more normal life. Ho says goodbye to his boss, Glaze played by sitcom star-turned-late night talk show host George Lopez, his co-worker Colton James played by Billy Ray Cyrus and all the James Bond-style gadgets that he has used in the field over the years for a simpler kind of life. Bob is happily in love with his neighbor and Mother of three children Gillian played by Amber Valletta. Gillian's children are rather difficult and don't really like boring, old Bob, which begins to put a tear in their relationship. Bob desperately wants to tell Gillian the truth about his secret identity but is not able to muster up enough courage.
When Gillian must go away to tend to a sick relative, Bob decides that this is the perfect opportunity for him to baby-sit the kids in order for them to begin to except him, however that doesn't go over so well at first. Ho quickly finds out that raising children is almost as tough as saving the world. Meanwhile the evil criminal mastermind Poldark, hilariously played by actor Magnus Scheving who Ho captured before he retired, has escaped again and is after a top secret code that the CIA confiscated. Not sure what the code is for, Colton asks Bob to take a look at the file but before he can Gillian's son mistakes it for a music file and puts it on his ipod. Now with a mole in the CIA and Poldark on the hunt for the code from the kid's ipod, Bob must protect the children and save the world from the villain once again but it could put his relationship with Gillian in jeopardy when she finds out his secret.
The film takes a very simple premise and makes it work. Chan seems very comfortable and at home in his role with the children. His comedy fits in perfectly with film's family themes. Like all Jackie Chan films there is a gag reel at the end of the film and you can't help but feel a little sorry for Mr. Chan because it does look like some of the stunts that may have once been easy for him like kicking up a chair seem very painful now to do. None-the-less the action scenes are top-notch and Chan delivers every scene with complete authenticity. While Chan doesn't speak perfect English you have to give him credit for saying all the dialogue he has in this film as spotlessly as he did even if half the time you may not be sure the actor even understands what he is saying. In the end, "The spy Next Door" is not going to light-the-world-on-fire cinematically by any means but it is a decent, funny, wholesome family film that will be fun for kids and not make parents want to slit their wrists watching it. Lets face it ... Jackie Chan is just darn fun to watch ... period!