Parents' Guide to

Jean-Claude Van Johnson

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Guns, action set pieces in hilarious spy send-up.

Jean-Claude Van Johnson Poster Image

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Jean-Claude Van Damme is back -- well, sorta, in the persona of Jean-Claude Van Johnson, black ops superspy posing as a faded actor in this bizarre, entertaining show. The whole thing gets rolling with a third-wall-breaking meta-exposition that sets the show's tone: "I used to be super famous," Van Damme informs us, sliding his feet into his JCVD-monogrammed slippers and splashing JCVD-labeled skincare products onto his now-weathered face. Bloodsport was his most famous role, Van Damme tells us: "Maybe you've seen it. It is on TV all of the time. Or maybe you've seen Timecop, it's like Looper starring Bruce Willis, but like a million times better."

But that was then and this is now, when Van Damme is an exhausted retired action star living a lonely life in a particularly pretentious slice of Hollywood, reduced to riding a Segway down his drive to pick up his morning Variety. When a chance meeting with his ex-colleague (and, on their off hours, lover) Vanessa (Kat Foster) offers him the first frisson of excitement he's had in some time, he's ready to sign back up for a dangerous spy mission, and the movie role that will cover for it -- which, of course, gives this show an opportunity to simultaneously make fun of both action and cinematic clichés. Van Damme is clearly having a great time sending himself up, and you'll have a great time watching, even if you didn't love his splits and kicks in the '80s. Jean-Claude Van Johnson is sharp, and hilarious, and fresh, and weird -- give it a try if you like all that stuff.

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