Reesa Visits The Spy Next Door

Bob Ho is a spy on loan from China to the US to help capture a Russian terrorist. After he completes the mission, he plans to leave his counter intelligence work and settle down with his next door neighbor in the suburbs. Unfortunately the Russian escapes with the help of some inside information.

The movie opens like any Jackie Chan feature, with him performing amazing stunts. Climbing buildings and chasing bad guys with amazingly tricky moves. But when we are introduced to the US team in charge of the mission, one realizes that this is obviously lighthearted fare. George Lopez is Glaze, who is in charge, and Billy Ray Cyrus is Colton James whose job is unknown, but he seems to be in charge of something other than spouting cheesy colloquialisms. He informs Ho that the only way the Russian could have escaped is because there’s a mole in their operations.

The scene cuts away to a single mom home with three precocious kids. There’s the 13 year old with a bad attitude, the smart nerdy son who speaks in big words, and an adorable 4 year old. Even with so much running around the house, yelling screaming, and sibling fighting the mom, Gillian (Amber Valletta) is good natured and happy. She’s dating the Asian guy next door, Bob Ho, who’s spy cover is a pen salesman. Bob plans to tell Gillian about his secret life at a dinner, but is interrupted when Gillian tells him that to get serious with her is a package deal with her 3 children. Right now, the kids do not like him. Gillian has to go out of town when her father is ill and Bob offers to care for the kids in hopes of winning their favor.

Colten sends Bob a secret file that he needs to decode. The wise guy son snooping on Bob’s computer downloads the file on to his Ipod thinking it’s a Swedish rock group performance. The Russians with really bad accents trace the IP address so they can find out who stole their file. Meanwhile, Bob is using every spy tool in his suitcase to out maneuver the threesome who are doing all they can to sabotage his care giving attempts. But soon chaos ensues and they are fighting off Russians.

The best part of Jackie Chan movies is the knowledge that all his stunts are real without wires or CGI. There are some pretty nifty fight scenes, which include a bicycle and folding chairs. That’s pretty much what this movie has going for it. Director Brian Levant, who also did Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Begins, paces the movie like a TV show. Lopez and Cyrus are too painfully awkward to be believable spies. It’s also hard to believe that Gillian and Bob could be romantically involved. The kids are cute but annoying and don’t have clear boundaries or respect for the adults around them. But Chan manages to express himself well with his limited English skills to convey sincerity winning the kids hearts. There’s a little bit of The Pacifier and Get Smart in this movie but with more creative fighting scenes. The question is, however, is it really entertaining to put kids in the middle of danger and violence no matter if it’s slapstick? As always stay for the outtakes during the ending credits. (Review by Reesa Cruz Hawkins)