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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Love Thy Neighbor
by Betty Jo Tucker

How well do you know your neighbors? In The Spy Next Door, Jackie Chan’s character “Bob Ho” is someone his neighbors would never suspect, a spy on loan to the CIA from Chinese Intelligence. Bob wants to retire -- and marry the lovely lady next door, who just happens to have three precocious children with very negative attitudes about him. He naively jumps at the chance to take care of this unruly trio, hoping to win the kids over. Unfortunately, Bob gets called back for an emergency mission while he’s supposed to be babysitting. Comical chaos ensues, of course. 

In this amusing family movie, young actors Madeline Carroll (Swing Vote), Will Shadley (RoboDoc) and Alina Foley (TV’s The League) are fun to watch portraying children who try to undermine their mom’s new boyfriend, then become drawn into a highly dangerous spy situation. Carroll plays a distgruntled teen to perfection, Shadley’s pre-teen prevaricator gets under our skin, and Foley’s adorable four-year-old almost steals the show from Chan.

However, this is a Jackie Chan (Shanghai Knights) movie through and through. As usual, he uses everything but the kitchen sink as weapons in his Kung Fu comedy battles with the bad guys. Watch how deadly such innocent objects as a bicycle, chairs, lamps, pots, pans, skillets and dishes can be!   

Supporting cast members include: Amber Valletta (Gamer) as Chan’s bewildered love interest; George Lopez (Balls of Fury) and Billy Ray Cyrus (Hannah Montana) as his suspicious CIA colleagues; and Magnus Sheving (TV’s Sportacus) and Katherine Boecher (The Chronicles of Holly-Weird), who deliver humorous turns as the outrageous Russian villains.   

Although The Spy Next Door is quite predictable -- and a long way from being one of Chan’s best films -- it’s still a treat to watch this one-of-a-kind star pull out all the stops to entertain us at an age when many actors have stopped trying. (Capsule review)  

(Released by Lionsgate and rated “PG” for sequences of action violence and some mild rude humor.)

Listen to a discussion of Jackie Chan films by clicking here.

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