Friday, April 26, 2013

"The Spy Next Door": goofy comedy from Jackie Chan can mask serious issues

Sometimes, very serious issues become the subject of slapstick or situation comedy, and that is the case with the 2010 film “The Spy Next Door”, by Brian Levant, from Lionsgate, Relativity Media, and “I am Rogue”. 
The film amuses the audience by starting with a recapitulation (as if part of a series) of action scenes from  pervious Jackie Chan movies.
This time, Bob Ho (Chan) is getting ready to “retire” , despite intelligence around that the Russians or Chinese or whoever else want to change all of America’s and Western Europe’s oil reserves into a useless yellow power. 
At the same time, Gillian (Amber Valletta), apparently a single soccer mom,  needs a babysitter after her father is injured, and Bob gets called upon to prove that he has a way with kids.  The movie may recall the Minnesota indie flick “I Hate Babysitting” (2000), but some of the terror contraband winds up on one of the kids’ computers (and his iPod).  It all sounds pretty contrived. 
There is a blond Russian spy Larry (Lucas Till), who looks like a 21-year-old icon from a gay disco floor.  He says he is majoring in English literature.  (My own father used to ask, “Why would a man ever want to teach English? Plenty of male English teachers are football coaches, too.)  The real life Till has an interesting resume on Imdb, already producing sci-fi movies at the age of 22.  In this movie, he seems out of place.
“All’s well that ends well.”  (That's English literature, just as in "Blood of Dracula".) Ho (if that’s his real name) winds up marrying Gillian.  Libertarians like to see miscegenation.
The supposed official site seems to have been overlaid by :Yellow Pages".  There is a Facebook page here

The yellow powder reminded me of the "yellowcake" from Alfred Hitchcock's "Notorious" (reviewed. Dec. 20, 2009).  And the music score here featured "Secret Agent" (a 1936 Hitchcock film, reviewed here Oct.22, 2012/  

The film can be rented on YouTube for $1.99.  

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