The Spy Next Door (2010)

Genre(s): Comedy / Crime / Family
Lions Gate || PG - 95 minutes - $34.99 || May 18, 2010
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2010-06-06


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Brian Levant
Writer(s): Jonathan Bernstein & James Greer (story), Jonathan Bernstein & James Greer and Gregory Poirier (screenplay)
Cast: Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, Billy Ray Cyrus, George Lopez


Theatrical Release Date: January 15, 2010


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Featurettes
  • Blooper Reel


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

For some reason as of late Iíve been enjoying the so-called ďfamily comedyĒ genre. It started with Tooth Fairy a few weeks ago and now The Spy Next Door. I just enjoy the comedies lately, no clue as to why. Chan puts on a comedic yet action-packed performance with a great supporting cast and a decent story to keep both adults and kids glued to the screen to see what happens next.

Bob Ho (Jackie Chan) lives next door to his girlfriend Gillian (Amber Valetta) who has three kids of her own: Farren (Madeline Carroll), Ian (Will Shadley), and Nora (Alina Foley). The kids hate Ho with a passion and do everything they can to let their mother know. Ho tells everyone heís a pen salesman but we all know heís really a spy, since the name of the title pretty much tells us. Ho manages to capture a Russian criminal known as Poldark (Magnus Scheving) and decides to quit the C.I.A. on a job well done. That all changes though the next day when not only does Poldark escape from custody but is forced to babysit Gillianís three little monsters until she returns from out of state.

Ho is sent an encrypted file by his old partner Colton (Billy Ray Cyrus, no seriously, Billy Ray Cyrus) to figure out what it means and decides he will try just as a favor to Colton to solve it. Inadvertently though Ian downloads the file to his IPOD Nano and sets off a whirlwind of criminals all headed by Poldark to try and capture the file yet again and put an end to Bob Hoís distinguished career. Not only is he being chased by Russians trying to kill him, but heís also forced to try and bond with the children who by all means are horrible kids and do everything they can to be as cruel and mean to Ho as possible. Can Ho manage to win over the kids and put an end to Poldarkís scheme that doesnít make any sense to begin with, or will the bad guys win and defeat the spy next door?

I must say that this film pleasantly surprised me. There are a ton of laughs to be had here and most of them come (maybe inadvertently) from Chan himself. The action sequences are pretty phenomenal for a kidís film, as though there are better action sequences I found here than in most action films Iíve watched in the past few months. They are incredibly well-choreographed and provide a sense of thrill and entertainment when they are watched. The rest of the cast, yes even the annoying children, have some cool scenes at the end when the Russians invade the house.

The film is a real family comedy but there are some laughs for the adults as well. Sure, making fun of Billy Ray Cyrus forÖacting... is always fun but he does have some decent lines in the movie. George Lopezís character on the other hand is about as entertaining as his late night talk show, so be forewarned that the mute button should be within reach when he tries to act out his lines. There are some great comedic lines though coming from Magnus Scheving and other bad guys found in the film, especially when they try to get him some modern outfits.

All in all, I would say this is an amazing comedy that works for both adults and kids. Adults wonít be too bored and odds are kids will be enthralled at some of the jokes and action sequences found within.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Stunt Master and Mentor (10 minutes): The cast talks about their experiences working with Jackie Chan, the stunt master, on the film. Some of the scenes are shown from the film and the cast talks about them in retrospect. Thereís nothing here really that funny but the cast is somewhat informative.

Adventures in Acting (11 minutes): The kids are interviewed about their past experiences in film and such. I didnítí find this that exciting though, since none of them are funny or provide anything useful in terms of informational value.

Blooper Reel (3 minutes): I believe these are the scenes shown at the end of the film, so if youíve already seen them then you wonít find anything new here. There are a few here that are quite comical but mostly just a quick gag.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The DVD transfer is about the same as past Lionsgate titles Iíve reviewed, so if youíve read any of my past ones then odds are you know what Iím going to say. Grain plays a major role in taking a hit on the transfer score, as though most of the nighttime scenes have an issue with darkness levels. Surprisingly enough there are also a few scenes that appeared to have the screen moving with so much grain and noise, which is never great to write. Brightness levels were also a little bit off as though I noticed whites being slightly overblown. The transfer isnít terrible but I do expect better from this studio due to past releases being reference material.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is nearly identical to the Blu-ray counterpart. The action sequences sound great throughout the movie, as I can literally hear every action done by Chan and the cast, including the few gunshots and kicks that plague the film. That being said though, the disappointing part comes in when the dialogue is spoken. I understand Chan doesnít speak the best of English but the dialogue on the casts end tends to be low-key and provide much lower levels than the rest of the film does. I had to tweak the audio several times throughout, The only difference I heard when comparing the two was the fact that the dialogue levels were a little bit lower and the action sequences didnít sound as crisp.



.::OVERALL::.

The Spy Next Door is a fun film that will mostly appeal to the children in the family but there are a few jokes here and there for adults. The technical package is decent for a DVD but the lame special features make it easy enough to say this is a rental at best.