The Spy Next Door

The Spy Next Door

2010, PG, 92 min. Directed by Brian Levant. Starring Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, George Lopez, Billy Ray Cyrus, Madeline Carroll, Will Shadley, Magnús Scheving, Alina Foley, Lucas Till.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Jan. 22, 2010

There was a time when the arrival of a new Jackie Chan movie was an event to be celebrated, a film to be seen, and its own hybrid art form, combining incandescent star wattage and impossibly entertaining physicality – a thing to be marveled over, really. But that was last century, and the Chan we knew and loved, the Chan who contorted (and frequently fractured) his lithe, Peking Opera-trained body into a spellbinding, often comic, acrobatic exclamation point on the very tip of action cinema, has been missing for years now. The once-great Chan of Police Story, Police Story 2, and City Hunter (nobody's favorite, but a comic gem compared to his recent output) has all but vanished into a consistently forgettable rut of ridiculous, kid-friendly fare, including but not limited to the cookie-cutter Rush Hour franchise and bizarro string of misfires The Suit, The Myth, The Medallion, The Tuxedo, and now The Spy Next Door. But where is The Chan? True, he briefly returned to form with 2008's terrifically entertaining Shaw Brothers homage The Forbidden Kingdom, but that appears to have been a one-off bit of old-school revelry. Certainly the Chan of yore is nowhere to be found in The Spy Next Door, which casts the actor as Bob Ho (haw!), a deep-cover CIA spook with parenting issues. Spy recycles the most irritating and silly parts of recent Chan films and then adds both children and – the end has got to be nigh, seriously – Billy Ray Cyrus into the mix. The effect is unsettling, but the heart does ache and does break to see the gravitationally noncommittal martial artist and quick-witted comic genius pulling musty, moth-eaten pratfalls from his bag of tricks in lieu of actual kickassery. Chan is by (most, but not all) accounts 56 years old now, so it's reasonable to expect less manic vigor and potentially life-threatening stuntwork from the man, but nobody of Chan's legendary stature should ever have to play second banana to George Lopez, and certainly not in a film that was already made five years ago with Vin Diesel (see: The Pacifier).

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Brian Levant Films
Snow Dogs
The marketing weasels over at Disney deserve to have their beady little eyes gouged out with flaming icicles for the fast one they've pulled on ...

Marc Savlov, Jan. 18, 2002

Jingle All the Way
Jingle All the Way is yet another scary, mean-spirited, holiday “comedy” that's about as much fun as a stocking full of dead spiders. Producer Chris ...

Marc Savlov, Nov. 29, 1996

More by Marc Savlov
Shortcut
Mangled Italian creature feature should be even shorter

Sept. 25, 2020

I’ve Got Issues
Mournful, doleful, hopeful Austin comedy finds empathy in the edges

Sept. 18, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

The Spy Next Door, Brian Levant, Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, George Lopez, Billy Ray Cyrus, Madeline Carroll, Will Shadley, Magnús Scheving, Alina Foley, Lucas Till

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle