It looks like our old pal Jackie Chan has a few more stateside films left in him. Kicking off early next year is his new family-friendly film The Spy Next Door. Chan will star as Bob Ho (I bet you can’t wait for the inevitable Bob Hope/Who’s on First? routine!) — international man of mystery and super spy. Through some plot contrivance Ho is stuck babysitting some kids of varying ages while bad guys attempt to do terrible things to the world. From the trailer, The Spy Next Door looks eerily too much like Vin Diesel’s The Pacifier with a little bit of Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet? thrown in for good measure. The last reference makes sense since this film is directed by the same director, Brian Levent.
I am typically a Jackie Chan supporter. In the past, I have been impressed by his athleticism, amazed at his fight scenes and amused by his comedy. The target audience of The Spy Next Door will probably appreciate the same things, but on a very toned done level. Die hard Chan fans will probably be disappointed at all of the camera trickery going on here since it’s the organic look and feel of Chan’s previous no-strings-attached movies that built his fan base. Apologists will probably argue that this kind of film represents the natural progression of an actor as old as Chan (55). One can’t expect him to do all of the crazy stunts he did as a younger man. I agree, but it’s still hard to see such a physical person reduced to a shadow of his former self. I’d also typically gripe about Jackie Chan playing the stereotypical goofy Asian with glasses, but since he’s getting with the beautiful Caucasian Amber Valletta, I’ll let it slide and discount it as “his cover.”
I’m also a little worried about the release date. January isn’t typically known for amazing films. Look at the beginning of 2009. We had Paul Blart to save us from the doldrums of the holidays. Sure, they got to tout themselves as the number one movie in America for so many weeks, but who were they competing with? Still, I’m willing to give The Spy Next Door the benefit of the doubt. After all, I gave the same fair shake to Paul Blart. I just have to go in without thinking about Chan’s prior work.
From the Official Synopsis
Lionsgate’s family action comedy THE SPY NEXT DOOR stars Jackie Chan as Bob Ho, an undercover CIA superspy who decides to give up his career in espionage to settle down with his next-door neighbor and girlfriend, Gillian (Amber Valletta). But Bob has one more mission to complete before Gillian agrees to marry him: winning over her three opinionated kids.
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!
Martial arts superstar Jackie Chan is joined by an talented supporting cast featuring Amber Valletta (PREMONITION, TRANSPORTER 2, HITCH), George Lopez (BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA, SWING VOTE, “George Lopez”), Billy Ray Cyrus (“Hannah Montana”), Magnus Scheving (LAZYTOWN), Madeline Carroll (SWING VOTE), Will Shadley (“Dirty Sexy Money”), and Alina Foley. THE SPY NEXT DOOR is directed by Brian Levent (ARE WE THERE YET?, SNOW DOGS, THE FLINTSTONES) from a screenplay by Greg Poirier (NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS). The film is produced by Robert Simonds and Ryan Kavanaugh.