The Spy Next Door

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Spy Next Door Movie Poster Image
Jackie Chan family flick high on stunts but low on laughs.
  • PG
  • 2010
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 37 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 62 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

One important message that the movie conveys is that family isn't just "blood," but also the people you love and who love you. Other take-aways include the importance of honesty in family relationships and how you shouldn't judge someone solely by the way they dress or what they do for a living -- people are complicated and can surprise you.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bob is a loyal, generous man with well-honed instincts and an unwavering desire to do the right thing. Gillian is a loving single mother who puts her children's needs first. On the downside, the Russian villains are portrayed in somewhat broad stereotypes.

Violence & Scariness

Several action sequences, a few with gun-wielding Russian villains. But even during a hostage situation, the threat of real harm is virtually non-existent. Some of the bad guys point guns and act menacingly, but no blood is spilled, and no one is seriously hurt.

Sexy Stuff

Bob and Gillian exchange a couple of embraces and tame kisses. Farren flirts with a much older teenager and occasionally tries to wear inappropriate clothes to school. A Russian criminal wears tight, cleavage-bearing clothes. A young boy (Ian) says he watched the Playboy channel in hi-def (and then claims to have spent time at the Playboy Mansion). He also uses a risque pick-up line on an older girl ("If I told you you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?").


Mostly insults: "stupid," "idiot," "loser," "hillbilly," and the like.


Apple is represented with iMac and iPod.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Jackie Chan spy comedy is a moderately action-packed choice for families. Several sequences involve gun-toting Russian criminals, but aside from a character who gets some bruises, there's no bloodshed in the fight scenes. Since this is a family movie, the villains are often knocked out humorously with things like a slammed door or a dropped appliance. There's no iffy language besides insults like "idiot," "stupid," and so on (though even those words aren't exactly something you want your 8-year-olds saying to their friends...), and the "sexy" stuff is limited to a couple of tame kisses and hugs between Chan and Amber Valletta, as well as some slightly off-putting (but mild) flirting between an older teenage spy and a 13-year-old character and a few risque lines from a younger boy. Overall, this is an age-appropriate (if not particularly funny) option for families with tweens and up.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8, 12, and 13-year-old Written byJrules July 10, 2010
Adult Written byThoughtfulSis June 16, 2010

Story is great for kids, but the subliminal messages are NOT

While Bob is a great guy, the rest of the movie is laced with subtle grown up advertising, including mentions of PlayBoy and Like many new Disney fil... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byCahpoewn January 13, 2018

Great messages about importance of family

Excellent movie, martial arts fighting, no gory scenes. Recommend 100%
Kid, 8 years old June 30, 2016

Funny, exciting and action packed

The stunts are amazing it's very funny. There are some good messages about family.

What's the story?

Bob Ho (Jackie Chan) is a Chinese operative who works for the CIA, but he's retiring in order to settle down with his attractive neighbor, Gillian (Amber Valletta), a single mom with three kids, who all think that Bob's a boring, bespectacled pen importer. To prove himself to Gillian, who's reluctant to get serious unless her kids approve, Bob offers to babysit her children -- angsty 13-year-old Farren (Madeline Carroll), precocious 11-year-old Ian (Will Shadley), and adorable 4-year-old Nora (Alina Foley) -- while she visits a hospitalized relative. Meanwhile, a Russian criminal escapes from prison and goes after a secret file in Bob's possession, forcing Bob to reveal himself as a spy to keep the kids safe. George Lopez and Billy Ray Cyrus co-star as Bob's former CIA handler and colleague, respectively.

Is it any good?

Eight-year-old boys aren't a picky lot; any movie with stunts, a few silly jokes, and kids who get to play heroes is going to appeal to them. Parents of 8-year-old boys, however, know that they deserve better than formulaic action comedies about a spy-turned-babysitter who can "take down dictators" but can't make a bowl of oatmeal. We've seen this all before (The Pacifier), and while it passes for mild diversion, a truly compelling movie it isn't. Chan is no doubt a gifted martial artist, and in buddy adventure-comedies, he shines. Unfortunately, he's too much of a goofball to make him a believable love interest (we heard audible "eewws" when he and Valletta kissed).

Even if you forget the romance (since it's just a device to get Chan into babysitting mode), the gags with the kids are all so predictable and corny that only the aforementioned third-graders will laugh; everyone else is more likely to roll their eyes. Lopez has very little to do, and Cyrus is in all of three scenes. Instead, a group of Russian villains (with awful accents and even worse jokes) is relied upon to provide the (faux) drama. Chan's stunts as he holds off the Russians are impressive, but they always are with him, and a few well-executed stunts just aren't enough to make a movie worth your time and money.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages about honesty and family relationships. What does Bob mean when he tells Farren that family isn't about "blood" but "love"?

  • The movie's violence is pretty mild, but there are still several characters that use guns. Is this OK for a family movie?

  • Is Jackie Chan believable as a romantic lead? Why or why not?

  • How are the Russian villains portrayed? Are Russians still considered a threat to America?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Themes & Topics

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