Bob Ho is a Chinese spy on loan to the CIA to capture notorious criminal Anton Poldark. After capturing Poldark, he decides to retire and concentrate on life with his new girlfriend, Gillian. Knowing that her 3 kids don’t like him, he seizes the opportunity to look after them when she has to leave for several days in the hopes of winning them over. When Poldark escapes, he is able to track Bob down when the kids accidentally download a top-secret formula from his computer. Bob now must keep the kids safe, maintain his secret identity and stop Poldark and his men from achieving their evil goals.
The Spy Next Door (2010) – Director: Brian Levant
Running Length: 94 mins
Starring: Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, Magnús Scheving
Genre: Comedy, Martial Arts
Jackie Chan brings his usual light-hearted brand of martial arts to our screens once again in this daft but likeable spy comedy. There’s no denying that ‘The Spy Next Door’ is a kids movie. The comedy, characters and plot are all designed with kids in mind. While not being the best Jackie Chan film or the best comedy film, children are bound to love the energy that Chan brings to his character and, at 94 minutes, it thankfully doesn’t outstay its welcome.
While Chan usually steals the show in his movies, this time he has to share the limelight with the movie’s villain, Anton Poldark (played by Magnús Scheving), a man whose desperation to wear modern clothes results in him being frustrated that he constantly looks ridiculous. While adults will probably tire quickly of the clichés and silly humour, ‘The Spy Next Door’ is the perfect kids film to keep the younger members of the family entertained.
IS ‘THE SPY NEXT DOOR’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
In a word, yes, ‘The Spy Next Door’ is suitable for children! There are a few moments which parents may wish to be aware of which we highlight below.
Farren is the oldest child in the family and at 13, she wishes to dress a little more provocatively than her mother would like. She is seen to wear a short skirt which her mother insists on her changing; she then wears a tight pair of jeans and a top which shows her midriff. Her mother again tells her to change into something more appropriate. While Bob is looking after the kids, Farren again wears slightly revealing clothes, insisting that her mother is fine with what she is wearing.
Ian is the middle child who wishes to be more popular at school. Seeing the formula on Bob’s computer which is entitled ‘GBH’, he believes it is a download of a rock festival called Grievous Bodily Harm. He takes the download to school but when the boys he tries to give it to find out that its a fake, they take him outside and put him headfirst into a bin. Ian protests but is not overly distressed by what has happened. Ian also believes that he is a hit with the ladies and at one point, when a girl who is a few years older than him walks passed he says ‘If I told you that you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?’. She looks at him with disdain and walks away.
Later in the movie, Bob takes the kids to a Chinese restaurant. They go ahead of him and when he catches up, they are talking to a teenage boy, Larry, who Farren clearly has a crush on. As he is obviously several years older than her, Bob warns him away. However a short time later, he comes back and sits at their table. Bob’s suspicions of Larry lead him to find out the real reason why he is so keen to be near to the family.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘The Spy Next Door’ is definitely aiming its target towards children. The action is all very child friendly and anyone who is looking for a martial arts action movie will probably be very disappointed. However, this is a very watchable movie and is an ideal way to introduce kids to Jackie Chan’s fun use of high energy comedy. We feel that ‘The Spy Next Door’ is appropriate for kids aged 6 and over.
- Violence: 1/5 (mostly humorous and slapstick in nature)
- Emotional Distress: 0/5
- Fear Factor: 1/5 (the villains are mostly incompetent but occasionally come across as a bit ruthless)
- Sexual Content: 1/5
- Bad Language: 0/5
- Dialogue: 1/5 (Towards the end of the movie, Poldark instructs his men to ‘kill the family’)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of single parenthood, step-children, spies and the difficulties of maintaining a dual identity.
Words by Laura Record