It's always hard when an action figure decides to try his hand at a very different sort of movie because there is a good chance he is going to disappointment those who have grown up watching them. It is even more disappointing when they make a silly kid's movie such as Jackie Chan doing the "The Spy Next Door". But the thing is "The Spy Next Door" is not for those who have grown up watching Chan but purely a kid's movie which utilises his great visual skills to amuse younger audiences. And when you get that into your mind "The Spy Next Door" works, it features action, comedy, characters and a storyline all suitable for a young audience with Jackie Chan providing plenty of innocent laughs.
Having helped catch Russian criminal Anton Poldark (Magnús Scheving), Chinese CIA agent Bob Ho (Jackie Chan - Rush Hour 3) is retiring to have a quiet life hopefully with neighbour Gillian (Amber Valletta - Gamer) and her three children, although the children do not want Bob to date their mum let alone become their new dad. Unaware that Bob is a retired spy Gillian leaves him to look after her children when she has to rush off to care for her sick dad and Bob soon discovers parenting is not that easy. And to make matters worse Poldark escapes and he is coming after Bob who has a secret computer file belonging to him.
It is quite hard as an adult to review children's movies because you can't recapture that innocence and naivety. As such from an adults point of view I would say that here we have another movie which features a man struggling to look after children, a bit like "Uncle Buck" but then with the over the top element of a Russian criminal coming after him. But trying to think as a child I would say we have a fun story of an ill prepared man struggling with looking after children, using some spy gadgets to get the upper hand and then defeating a comically bad Russian. It works if you are a child with plenty of simple and obvious gags which for adults will feel unoriginal.
But in truth whilst we have the humour of Bob struggling to look after the children and defeating bad guys "The Spy Next Door" is really about Jackie Chan and his natural comic ability this time used to amuse a younger crowd. And it works, watching Chan flick up a jacket with his foot or fighting a bad guy with a ladder is entertaining especially with all Chan's face pulling. Throw in some other visual gags such as Bob's quick change routine and a variety of props and there is plenty to keep young children amused.
Because "The Spy Next Door" is really all about Jackie Chan the other adults get little to do which means Amber Valletta, George Lopez and Billy Ray Cyrus are seriously underused. But the trio of young actors Madeline Carroll, Will Shadley and Alina Foley all work well especially in their one on one scenes with Jackie Chan.
What this all boils down to is that if you watch "The Spy Next Door" because you are a fan of Jackie Chan the action hero there is a big chance you will be disappointed because this is a children's movie which is all about Chan's natural comedic ability but this time used innocent humour and obvious action.