The Spy Next Door Review: James Bland


spynextdoor300x210THE SPY NEXT DOOR (PG): On General Release 19th March

Is it me or does Jackie Chan’s grasp of English get worse as he gets older?

The language barrier was cute at first and made for some great comic moments in Rush Hour, but now it’s just a struggle to understand him.

It was even more of a struggle to understand why the hell he keeps making crappy Western movies. To be fair, The Forbidden Kingdom wasn’t terrible but the rest of them have been pretty dire of late. The Tuxedo, anyone?

And now he’s gone and got himself involved in the kiddie secret agent movie The Spy Next Door which was unlikely to break a bad run for the kung-fu star.

Chan plays Bob Ho, a Chinese secret agent on loan to the CIA who falls in love with his neighbour Gillian. But as mad-cap comedy would have it, Gillian’s got three pain in the arse kids who unexpectedly need Bob to babysit them.

But some sneaky Russians are after Ho because he’s seen their secret formula for dissolving oil and now the kids are in danger too. This was never going to be as good as Spy Kids and it didn’t seem to put any effort into pretending it would be. It’s not totally without appeal though; adults will enjoy this for its utter absurdity while kids will love it because it’s Jackie Chan doing his Buster Keaton routine.

But it has downsides – and plenty of them. Firstly, Chan and his love interest Amber Valletta are so mismatched it’s unreal. You would never believe they’re a couple in a million years. Secondly, ‘Achy Breaky’ Billy Ray Cyrus pops up as Chan’s friend at the CIA, demonstrating once again why he should be banned from film and TV.

Yet it was nice to be back hating the Russians again instead of the Taliban; it was like nostalgic racism.

Chan is passable as the goofy agent faced with predictable problems and the actors playing the kids are actually pretty good, particularly the eldest, Madeline Carroll. It wasn’t grade A material for her but she makes a good effort.