The Spy Next Door


The Spy Next Door

Critics Consensus

Lacking a script funny enough to cover up for Jackie Chan's fading physical gifts, The Spy Next Door fails on every conceivable level.



Total Count: 90


Audience Score

User Ratings: 106,239
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Movie Info

Reminiscent of Kindergarten Cop, with a dash of Spy Kids, The Spy Next Door blends together an entertaining mixture of family fun and martial-arts comedy styling to form a familiar story that once again reminds us that even hardened action heroes have a soft side. Jackie Chan stars as Bob Ho, an international spy on loan to the CIA who gives up his job in hopes of leading a so-called normal life with his next-door-neighbor girlfriend and her rambunctious brood. There's nothing in Spy that the audience hasn't seen before from similarly themed incarnations (think The Pacifier), but, fans will appreciate director Brian Levant's homage to Jackie Chan's past Hong Kong movie blockbusters -- most notably, Police Story and The Legend of Drunken Master -- during the opening credit sequence, which is fitting considering many of the action sequences are derivative of those films.The main story centers on Bob's relationship with artsy single mom Gillian (Amber Valletta) and her three kids: precocious teenage stepdaughter Farren (Madeline Carroll), nerdy middle child Ian (Will Shadley), and adorably energetic Nora (Alina Foley). After an emergency sends Gillian away to Denver, Bob steps up and offers to watch the kids while she's gone. Ill-equipped to handle a situation that's clearly over his head, Bob utilizes his spy skills and gadgets -- video watch, GPS tracking, x-ray glasses -- to gain control over the situation in hopes of winning over the kid's affection, but when an old enemy escapes from prison and threatens his potential family, Bob must return to his 007 world of international espionage to protect them.Admittedly, there's a certain level of cheese in this film, especially when it comes to the Boris-and-Natasha-style villains, Poldark (Magnús Scheving) and Creel (Katherine Boecher), whose silly Russian stereotyped performances and running joke about American fashion unabashedly border on cringe-worthy territory. Not to mention, the thinly plotted storyline involving brainiac Ian, who accidentally downloads a top-secret formula for oil-eating ooze created by the bad guys, which propels the main action of the film. Adding to the pile are the supporting cast members: George Lopez as the traitorous CIA agent, Glaze, and Billy Ray Cyrus as CIA agent and Bob's BFF Colton James, who lends folksy witticisms like "As gone as rum cake at an AA meeting."Even so, Chan's charm wins out in the end, and The Spy Next Door's most effective sequences involve Bob's attempts to bond with the kids -- from taking little Nora shopping for a Halloween costume to helping Ian with school bullies and girls. These comedic moments more or less overshadow an otherwise simplistic narrative, and the audience can't help but smile to themselves every time Chan appears onscreen. Die-hard fans might miss the era of classic kick-ass Hong Kong action films, but Spy manages to fill that void as an entertaining alternative that kids and parents alike will enjoy. ~ Alaina O'Connor, Rovi


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Critic Reviews for The Spy Next Door

All Critics (90) | Top Critics (29) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (79)

Audience Reviews for The Spy Next Door

  • Aug 16, 2019
    Jackie Chan as an undercover Chinese spy on loan to the CIA (don't think about that stretch too long) who has to convince the children of the woman he wants to marry that he's an okay guy, only the kids don't want to hear it. So the film is one scene after another of him trying to get a heart-to-heart with the little hardheads, punctuated by typical frenetic choreographed Chan action set pieces. The film mimes heart but actually has only a little.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 16, 2017
    This continues the very long tradition of having a badass action hero play to the little kiddies in a super family film. Schwarzenegger did it with Kindergarten Cop. Vin Diesel did it with The Pacifier. And The Rock pretty much made a career of it before he realized that family friendly films weren't gonna make him the major box office star that he is today. And I don't mean that in a derogatory manner, of course, it's cool to have movies that you can watch with your family and have a good time with them for a little while. But it's also very limiting in that you can't really transcend to the truly upper echelon of Hollywood superstardom, if that is what you truly want, by just doing films that only families can see. Because there's certain stereotypes associated with the genre that make some people hesitant, if not outright refusing, to watch the films. Whether it's stories with cheesy and sentimental resolutions or comedy so lame that even Donny Osmond is embarrassed. They're not e asy movies to like and this one is no different. Because, in all honesty, this isn't a particularly good movie as it pretty much hits every stereotype associated with the genre. It'd be something if they played to those stereotypes to subvert them with some legitimately clever comedy, but they don't. And there's nothing about this movie that is clever. Is it a bad movie? Technically speaking, no, not really. But I didn't actually mind this movie at all. I've had a rough couple of days, or at least someone in my family has, so it's been a bit of a down period. And the reason I chose this was because I wanted something goofy that wouldn't require much brainpower while I was watching it. But I have to be objective and the movie isn't what I would call good. There are some elements of the film that I did like, like the villain getting several ridiculous outfits that make him look like an idiot. It's not even something that's actually great or even that creative, but it got a few chuckles due to the reactions of the actor playing the villain. I have no idea who this guy was or if I've seen him prior, but he was pretty solid. It goes without saying that the acting in this movie isn't any good, even by Jackie Chan standards. And that's not fair, because as I mentioned in my review for Skiptrace, Jackie is a better actor than he might come across. That's simply because of the fact the he does not command the English language as well as, even, Arnold Schwarzenegger. But he showed glimpses of greatness in the Karate Kid remake and he's been good in some of his Hong Kong films. But he really is not very good here. And nobody is, for the exception of maybe Madeline Carroll, who plays the mouthy teen. When you have Billy Ray Cyrus featured as a secondary character, then you know you can't really expect much in the way of quality acting. The story is nothing to speak of, the kids cause Bob, a Chinese Intelligence Agent on loan to the CIA, more problems when they upload something that leads the Russians to them. And I say something, because I don't exactly know what was downloaded and why it was important. Bob and the kids' lives are put in danger and Bob, obviously, has to use the skills he has amassed throughout the years to get them out of this situation. The stunts are nothing special, but they're ok, they're really the best part of the film and it obviously does not compare to some of the crazy shit that Mr. Chan has done throughout his career. I'm not gonna talk about Jackie's diminishing skills, because that's a horse that has been beaten to death by yours truly, but he still does the best he can, even if he's not put in a movie where his skills, even at his age at the time of this movie, can excel. With that said, the movie, even if I thought it wasn't very good, was somewhat watchable. I realize that that might not make a lot of sense, but I didn't mind watching this movie at all. Yes, it's bad, but it's what I needed to watch last night. I can't recommend this, because it is a bad movie, but it's by no means the worst movie I've seen in the last six months. The Point Break remake and Meet The Blacks are both worse than this.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Nov 22, 2011
    Fun with acceptable action sequences, but fails in many more aspects as history.
    Rodrigo R Super Reviewer
  • Oct 29, 2011
    Predictable, overused gags, and bad acting is what makes The Spy Next door a bad movie.
    August S Super Reviewer

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