— by MARIUSZ ZUBROWSKI —
“The Spy Next Door” is downright offensive. Sure, it’s a family movie and it doesn’t contain any nudity or bloody violence, but it’s the fact that it exists that makes it insulting. Director Brian Levant — no stranger to duds, with “Snow Dogs” and “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas” gracing his filmography — is questioning our intelligence as a society with his latest film, and Jackie Chan should be ashamed to have any part of it.
The plot of the film revolves around Bob Ho, a former CIA spy who is assigned to look after his girlfriend’s three kids. This is where it gets “interesting,” as one of the kids sets off a top-secret file and this ticks off Bob’s nemesis — a Russian terrorist who is hellbent on creating mayhem.
Usually, I’d list off the positives and negatives of the film but “The Spy Next Door” will get special treatment. I’m going to talk about time in the theater itself and that should send a clear message on just how bad (or good, depending how you look at it) the movie is.
Fast forward through the previews and there I was, sitting in the middle of the auditorium. As a note, there were about 16 people present and about 10 of them were small children. So I’m sitting in the theater with a Pepsi and a small popcorn as the “pinnacle of film-making” is playing before my eyes. First thought that came into my head, “Wow, this popcorn is delicious,” and it wasn’t long before I started wondering about hulless popcorn and about its origins. I continue watching this movie and the kids are hooting and hollering while I’m slumped in my seat with a stoic expression. I wondered about Jackie Chan’s age as the almost cartoonish action sequences commenced, but it wasn’t before long that I actually fell asleep. No worries, I woke up about five minutes later because of some kid screaming because his soda ran out. But to sum it up, I was bored and I noticed that the parents/guardians of the children were bored as well.
The reason for this lack of interest? A predictable plot, terrible jokes (that the kids loved), and horrid acting. Though I commend an effort by the screenwriters to throw a couple jokes at the older demographic, it comes off more as “God, I pity you.”
The three big-name actors, Jackie Chan, Billy Ray Cyrus and George Lopez are like court-jesters. They aren’t funny to begin with and just watching them squirm makes watching “The Spy Next Door” even more of a chore. Jackie Chan wanted to attract younger movie-goers but that’s probably because most of the movie’s intended audience is too young to remember the days when Jackie Chan was in top condition and the poor dialogue does little to cover up Chan’s graceless aging from his older fans.
“The Spy Next Door” is just a dreadful film. From what I noticed, kids loved it, but the point of a family movie is to entertain THE ENTIRE FAMILY. So my word of advice is, only bring your kids if you’re an insomniac.
— Click here for four clips from “The Spy Next Door. —
Follow Mariusz Zubrowski on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ijm_Mariusz.