Next Door Spy

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Next Door Spy Movie Poster Image
Animated detective tale from Denmark has some cursing.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 77 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Explores difficulties in adapting to major changes in life (moving to a new home, losing a friend). Promotes sharing feelings, compassion, resourcefulness, loyalty, respect for others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Young heroes initially lie, disobey their parents, are mean to one another. By story's end, they have learned a measure of integrity, compassion, resourcefulness, loyalty. Heroine's mom is well meaning but pushy, annoying, doesn't have empathy for her daughter. Stereotypical teen airhead sister. Set in Denmark; no ethnic diversity. 

Violence

Some mysterious and suspenseful moments, along with tumbles, sneaking around, chases. Girl injures her leg; boy has arm wound. Teasing/bullying.

Sex

An almost kiss between young boy and girl. Some suggestive expressions: "How's it hanging?" and "messing around with him."

Language

"Hell," "damn," "s--t." Insults: "laughingstock," "stupid," "you're a joke," "nerd."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Next Door Spy (aka Nabospionen) is an animated children's tale about an unconventional girl who opens a detective agency in her family's basement. The budding investigator gets her first case, meets her first suspect, and nurtures a very odd pet. The movie's mystery plot is an opportunity for writer-director Kara von Bengston to touch on issues kids often encounter, like moving to a new town, exasperating sibling relationships, and asserting one's specialness. Cartoon action is mild: a few tumbles, some suspenseful chases, "stalking" that leads to startling moments. One child injures her leg; another has an arm wound. Other than an irritating older sister and an angry boy, there are no villains. There's some teasing/bullying. Oddly, while the movie is clearly intended for kids, the English adaptation (from the original Danish) includes a few curses or inappropriate expressions: "s--t," "hell," "damn," "mess around with him," and "how's it hanging?" Some insults are also used: "nerd," "laughingstock," "stupid." 

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What's the story?

In NEXT DOOR SPY, after landing in a new town and avoiding her mother's pleas to try to make new friends, Agathe-Christine (Simone Edemann Mogelbjerg), a young "private eye," gets into more trouble than she bargained for. And bargain she does. Forty dollars if she can find the pesky thief who's been stealing from the owner of the corner market. "A.C.," as Agathe-Christine likes to call herself, thinks she know who's behind the thefts. It's Vincent (Oliver Botcher), the boy who lives across the street. Still, she has to prove it. Unfortunately, her police officer mom, her harassing older sister, and her adorable baby brother all get in the way of A.C.'s quest. Things are complicated at home, not the least of which is A.C.'s discovery and nurturing of an unidentified egg that, when hatched, turns out to be a lizard (though he doesn't think of himself that way). And, most unexpected of all, Vincent turns out to be a very different kind of "thief," one who ultimately needs her skills as a friend more than anything else. 

Is it any good?

Charming animation, an inventive story, and a unique, likable heroine aren't enough to overcome the film's few but notable flaws; the intermittently awkward English dialogue doesn't help. A sub-story about Agathe-Christine's discovery of an unidentifiable, constantly growing lizard-like reptile goes nowhere. He hatches, he grows, he's never discovered (not even near misses), nor does he impact Agathe-Christine's personal story. Worst of all, he isn't funny or unusual in any meaningful way. Additionally, for some families with elementary school kids (for whom Next Door Spy is intended), swearing is a deal-breaker. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how moving to a new home or new town is often a challenging experience for kids. An important part of Agathe-Christine's story is her family's move. Have you ever changed living places or schools? How did you feel? List some of the positive things that can happen when you make big changes.

  • What are some of the positives in watching movies for kids made in other countries? In what ways does Agathe-Christine's life in Denmark in Next Door Spy seem similar to your own life? In what ways is it different? How did the family relationships resemble your family and others you know? What traits did Agathe-Christine's mom have in common with your parent(s)? Her big sister Sarah? 

  • Why do you think that kids (including Agathe-Christine's sister) made fun of her clothing? Would you consider it a form of bullying? How did Agathe-Christine handle the teasing? How do you stand up for yourself?

Movie details

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