'The Spy Next Door' - Movie Review

Jackie Chan was the martial arts hero of the 1980s and 1990s. But as his body absorbed more abuse and he got older, his stunt work became less impressive. The only movie he's done after 2000 that was worth seeing was "The Foreigner" (unless we count the "Kung Fu Panda" movies, for which he did voice work). This particular movie came out in 2010. I knew all this ... I'll once again blame the pandemic for my avoidance of anything thought-provoking or depressing.

Full disclosure: I watched this 94 minute movie in about 60 minutes, zipping through quite a few scenes of exposition. Not that the action scenes were that much better.

Chan plays Bob Ho, a Chinese spy on loan to the CIA. He's planning on retiring, and has found a lovely woman ("Gillian," played by Amber Valletta) somewhere in the U.S. that he wants to settle down with. The problem is, her three kids don't really like him and his spying career isn't quite finished. Bob uses spy tools to both get a handle on the kids (not, of course, in a way that's invasive of their privacy as that would make him uncool / creepy) and to seem cool to them, but then the bad guys come after him and he has to protect the kids while fighting for his life.

Reminiscent of the better "Kindergarten Cop" (1990) and Vin Diesel's not-so-great "The Pacifier" (2005), with a touch of "Spy Kids" (2001) thrown in. Chan's stunts aren't that good, and there's a fair bit of wirework (something he used to religiously avoid). Not very funny, mildly cute, and with surprisingly poor stunts. The inclusion of Billy Ray Cyrus (who grooms that man? Nobody?) gives you some indication of how poor the staffing choices were.