Starring: Jackie Chan, Madeline Carroll, Will Shadley
Director: Brian Levant
Running Time: 94 mins
The Spy Next Door is an American film about an intelligence operative whose girlfriend asks him to look after her three kids for a couple of days. However, he soon discovers that babysitting is far more of a challenge than even the highest levels of international espionage.
If there were a 60s thriller starring Steve McQueen called ‘The Spy Next Door’, it would surely be a classic. However, when it’s a kids’ movie starring Jackie Chan, I don’t think the same is quite applicable. In all truth, while this is a light-hearted and easy-going movie, complete with a typically charismatic performance from Jackie Chan himself, there’s not much to The Spy Next Door to really entertain you, as it lacks in properly good humour or particularly interesting characters throughout, making for a rather underwhelming watch throughout.
Let’s start off on the bright side, with the simple fact that this film is a light-hearted family piece that young kids may have some good fun with. We of course know that family movies can be so much more than two hours of kids’ entertainment, but at the most basic level, this film does its job. In that, even though viewers over the age of 8 may not have much to rave about, its incredibly light atmosphere is pretty pleasant throughout.
What’s more is that, while it’s hardly the most demanding role he’s ever had, Jackie Chan is really fun to watch throughout. In what can be described as one of his ‘cuter’ performances, Chan has great rapport with the young kids he’s babysitting, all the while using his innate charisma and talent, along with his classic martial arts skills, to make for a very enjoyable lead throughout, proving both convincing as the secret agent, and just as likable as the bumbling middle-age man lumbered with the kids for a few days.
That’s about it, though. While the film is light and easy-going, there’s little else to really grab onto or care about, making it as a whole a rather underwhelming watch.
Above all, the film really isn’t funny enough to make for a properly entertaining watch. It’s easy-going, yes, but I never really found myself laughing at any of the rather weak gags throughout. For young kids, I’m sure it’s far more entertaining, but there’s no real depth or great brains to The Spy Next Door that would make it a really worthwhile watch.
Moving on, the film’s attempts to instil any emotion or drama in its story are generally fairly disappointing. Apart from the central focus on Chan’s character looking after the kids for a few days, the film also tries to convince you of his character’s romantic relationship with their mother (hence why he has been entrusted with the babysitting). Initially, that element of the story has little impact or importance, but when it comes towards the final act, it suddenly becomes a focal point that’s really not all that convincing, making for a rather underwhelming attempt at drama in an otherwise very shallow and simple film.
Overall, it’s fair to say that there’s not all that much to The Spy Next Door, and although it is a light, easy-going watch that should entertain younger viewers, as well as having a charismatic performance from Jackie Chan, it’s not a film that you’ll really remember after it’s over, which is why I’m giving it a 6.3.