Sunday, 21 March 2010

Review: The Spy Next Door

Year: 2010
Director: Brian Levant
Screenplay: Jonathan Bernstein, James Greer
Starring: Jackie Chan, Billy Ray Cyrus, George Lopez

The plot Synopsis is here

If your a follower of this blog, you should know not only do I write reviews here but I also co-host a film podcast at Geek Planet Online. The show (Cinematic Dramatic) allows me to yell even more pompously and pretentiously than I do here. Due to my ranting, my Co-host Iain decided that followers of the podcast should suggest in the forums which "bad" flick I should watch this week to talk/rant about along side the main review I Love You Phillip Morris. The boards decided to inflict The Spy Next Door on me and in a bizarre turn of events; I found myself enjoying Jackie Chan's children adventure a lot more than the aforementioned ILYPM for the simple reason that it knew what it was and did what supposed to well enough.

What did it do? Well it had Jackie Chan despite being past his prime, pulling off nutty stunts. It had a cheesy script that made no sense but still had enough cheap shots to amuse a loser like myself. Expecting the film to be a life changing piece of cinema is like the kid that gets picked last at football to score the last minute cup-winning goal. But it works fine as a dumb piece of knock around fun.

Why did it work? I guess it was the physicality of it all, watching a Jackie Chan family film with stunts that are still done by the guy despite being in his mid-fifties is still ten time better than sitting down with The Pacifier or Are we there yet? Chan's grinning face and slightly less daring feats than before get us through the film. The film is sub-par but Chan's charm is still quite high with me and sometimes it's that alone that make certain scenes palatable.

The rest of the film? Pretty much tosh to be frank. There's some risible child acting, Billy Ray Cyrus shouldn't be allowed near anything to do with film and Brian Levant's direction and editing of the action seem to be trying it's hardest to ruin what ever excitement that is generated from the medium flying stunts (not really high flying as Chan is clearly not in his 20's anymore). Yet with these issues in tow the film is still just about passable. It's sweet but not too saccharine, its heart is in the right place and it does what it's supposed to; which is of course keep kids quiet for 90 minutes and hey presto it works! Of the all the naff films that come out for children these days, I'd rather sit through something like this than the next CGI filled, Pop-Culture clustered, Animal Yakking, Dreamworks nonsense. I'm sure my kids (when I get them) won't mind if I showed them this either...I think it could only be the once however.