The Spy Next Door also known as “O kataskopos tis diplanis portas”
Reviewed by: Laura Busch
Family Action Comedy
1 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release:
January 15, 2010 (wide—2,800+ theaters)
DVD: May 18, 2010
Spies in the Bible
“Spying is easy. Babysitting is hard.”
Bob Ho (Jackie Chan), a recently retired spy, gladly takes on his hardest case yet—caring for and gaining the approval of his girlfriend, Gillian’s (Amber Valleta) three strong-willed children. When Gillian’s son Ian (Will Shadley) accidentally downloads a top-secret file from Bob’s computer, he and the children are in for more adventure than they ever imagined, as they must fend-off Russian terrorists, who are in pursuit of the top-secret code.
“The Spy Next Door” is a relatively clean children’s action-adventure movie and has several positive lessons that may be derived from it, even though these moral lessons are presented in a rather superficial manner. At the beginning of the film Gillian explains to Bob that her children are her priority and that they must approve of him before she can marry him. Bob also acknowledges that if he marries Gillian he’s not only marrying her but her whole family. When the children complain to their mother that Bob is boring and a dork, Gillian tells her children that she admires his honesty, loyalty, dependability and that those are the qualities that make a good husband and father. As the film progresses, we see the children begin to warm up to and respect Bob as they grow to realize that he is a man of good character.
Like so many other mainstream films, “The Spy Next Door” subtly reinforces and normalizes divorce in our modern culture. The family portrayed in this film has been hurt and torn apart by divorce and a cheating father. The Lord’s name is profaned approximately 2 times during the film, but otherwise the film is free of profanities. Throughout the film, a female Russian terrorist can be seen in several tight, cleavage bearing outfits.
Farren (Madeline Carrol), the oldest girl, has a very rebellious attitude and says several times throughout the movie that she “hates this family.” She also flirts with and tries to gain the attention of a much older college-age boy, but Bob puts a stop to this. Farren’s rebellion extends to her fashion choices, as she attempts to go to school in several miniskirts and a midriff baring top, however Gillian and Bob deem them inappropriate and tell her to find something more modest to wear.
Gillian’s son, Ian lies to his friends in an effort to make himself seem cool, but Bob tells him that he shouldn’t lie to his friends to gain popularity. In one scene, Ian ends up in the principal’s office for lying to his classmates. Ian brags to his friends that he spent New Year’s Eve at the Playboy mansion and when the principal asks him about this lie he says, “Pay per view, hi-def, I felt like I was there.” Later in the movie, Ian tells a girl from Farren’s gymnastics class that she has a nice body. These inappropriate jokes, as well as Ian’s character’s interest in girls were played for laughs but they fell flat, and had no business being in a children’s movie. There was a moderate amount of bloodless, martial arts style violence throughout the film, which may be of concern to some parents.
Parents should also be aware that a blooper reel immediately follows the film’s conclusion, and while entertaining and funny contains several profanities, such as the f-word and sh** that are bleeped out, but this blooper reel can easily be avoided if parents and their children leave immediately after the movie ends.
While there are some moral lessons that young viewers and their parent’s can take away from the “The Spy Next Door,” these lessons were not explored in any depth and were couched in an only mildly entertaining slapstick comedy that suffers from a clichéd plot and wooden acting.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.