Barely kid­ding

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

WHEN IS the end of the road for movie tough guys? Some say it’s when you can see their stunt dou­ble once too of­ten; oth­ers think it’s when they start wear­ing a hair­piece. But the more com­pelling ar­gu­ment is that the end is near when they start play­ing sec­ond fid­dle to cute kids. Think The Rock in The Game Plan, Vin Diesel in The Paci­fier, Burt Reynolds in Cop and a Half. Kid­die movies are of­ten the ele­phant grave­yards for action stars.

In The Spy Next Door, 55-yearold Jackie Chan plays Bob, the meek boyfriend of sin­gle mother Gil­lian (Am­ber Valetta, 35). Lit­tle does Gil­lian know that the hum­ble pen sales­man with an eye for younger women is in fact a Chi­nese se­cret agent on loan to the CIA. Just when Bob is about to hang up his gad­gets and pro­pose to Gil­lian, a danger­ous old neme­sis shows up in the form of Poldark (Magús Schev­ing, from TV’s LazyTown).

De­spite Chan’s en­thu­si­asm, en­ergy and in­her­ent charm, The Spy Next Door seems most in­ter­ested in watch­ing its star hu­mil­i­ated by chil­dren, leav­ing lit­tle time for his leg­endary phys­i­cal com­edy. It feels hor­ri­bly waste­ful to cast Chan and the ath­letic Schev­ing, only to have them do a small hand­ful of fight scenes.

The film is largely a knock-off of su­pe­rior prop­er­ties, es­pe­cially James Cameron’s True Lies and Robert Ro­driguez’s Spy Kids tril­ogy. The un­der-five crowd might like this broad, sen­ti­men­tal farce, but then again you mightn’t want them to watch its slightly vi­o­lent slap­stick

Child’s play: Jackie Chan and buddy in The Spy Next Door

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