Country: United States
Director: Brian Levant
Starring: Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, Madeline Carroll, Will Shadley, Alina Foley, Magnús Scheving, Billy Ray Cyrus
Music: David Newman
I blame Arnold Schwarzenegger and the film Kindergarten Cop for all the ‘tough-guys with kids’ films. Since then we’ve had Vin Diesel as The Pacifier, The Rock as The Tooth Fairy, and many, many more – now we have Jackie Chan as The Spy Next Door. The problem though, is that Jackie was never really a tough guy, and many of his films are family friendly, so dumbing down even further seems almost redundant.
The biggest problem with the film is Jackie, himself. Look, I love Jackie’s movies, but he is pushing sixty years old, and for him to be playing this particular role at this stage of his life is ill-advised. The central conceit of the movie, is that Jackie falls in love with his neighbour, Gillian (Amber Valletta) and has to win over her kids. But just the age difference between Jackie, and the love of his life, makes the whole relationship seem rather stilted, and at times, verging on downright creepy! It probably doesn’t help matters either that the opening title sequence, features a montage of clips from Jackie’s previous spy film roles, some dating back to the 1980s.
Having said all that, The Spy Next Door is probably a better film than The Tuxedo or The Medallion, – but that isn’t saying much – and as a family film, it hits all the notes that it should, complete with an over-wrought misty-eyed ending.
Ultimately, if your a fan of Jackie, you can do better than this one. Unless you’ve got kids, I’d give it a miss.