Who’s In It: Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, Madeline Carroll, Billy Ray Cyrus, George Lopez, Magnús Scheving, Alina Foley, Will Shadley
The Basics: Let me tell you the worst movie idea ever conceived. International action star Jackie Chan is a fifty-something secret agent who wants to retire from catching bad guys with bad accents (Let’s make ‘em the Russians, and refer to them as Rooskies!) so he can wear sweater vests and glasses in the suburbs and marry his girlfriend (Amber Valletta’s available and desperate enough!) even though they’ve only been dating for three months and she thinks he’s a pen salesman. (Sounds great so far! What happens next?) It turns out that Amber’s three kids hate Jackie on account of he’s the most boring old Chinese guy in the neighborhood, and besides, they’re rambunctious brats. But one of them accidentally downloads a secret spy formula to his iPod (it’s what the kids have these days!) and Jackie must protect his young charges from the evil Russians while winning the kids over with his secret agent charm and the contents of his yuppie suburban house. Oh, and his character is named Ho. Bob Ho. (That’s how he’ll answer the phone, too! Where’s my checkbook?)
What’s The Deal: The Spy Next Door is the worst film of the year so far, and a tedious misfire by all involved. Where do I begin? The horrible script and inept dialogue? (Sample: “I’ve brought down dictators. How tough can three kids be?” Or, Bob to bratty teenager, complete with finger quotes: “Mind if I ‘chill’ with you?”) Perhaps the unbelievable pairing of Amber Valletta, world’s hottest MILF, and Jackie Chan, who’s painfully nerdy even when he’s wearing his “cool” leather jacket? Then there’s the Russian bad guy with a terrible accent, played by a former Icelandic aerobics champion (I’m not joking), one fairly terrible instance of CGI, the wires that are obviously helping Jackie do his stunts, amateur-hour line readings by George Lopez as Jackie’s CIA buddy, a syrupy, clichéd message about the meaning of family, and a mesmerizing performance by Billy Ray Cyrus’s soul patch. (To his credit, he does have a fabulous retrosexual mullet.) It’s a wonder that The Spy Next Door didn’t go straight to DVD, although if they keep this up, that’s where Jackie Chan and director Brian Levant (Beethoven, Snow Dogs, Are We There Yet?) are headed.
Who Needs A New Agent: Lucas Till. This time last year he was about to do the Hoedown Throwdown with Miley Cyrus. Now he’s laying on a thick Russian accent and getting television sets dropped on his head in a film headed straight for the Razzies. Also, Amber Valletta. She’s the one trying the hardest here, even if she can’t quite sell it when she has to pucker up with Jackie.
The Few Bright Spots, If You Must Watch It: Taking one for the team and seeing this with the kids? You have my deepest sympathies. At least the fight scenes, though aggressively PG-rated, will give you a few moments of rest from wanting to bash your eyes out; in classic form, Jackie leaps and kicks his way through the baddies using everything around him as a weapon, from a BMX bike to a pet turtle to a middle schooler. Also, the opening credits flash scenes of Jackie Chan’s classic martial arts films while the song “Secret Agent Man” plays, suggesting that boring old Bob Ho was every one of Chan’s movie alter egos in his life as an international man of mystery. Too bad nothing else in the movie is as clever as that one minute.
Line That Made Me Unintentionally LOL: “Please don’t go. Who’s gonna sing the China songs?”