Bob Ho (Jackie Chan) is a Chinese spy who has been on loan to the CIA. He is one of the best in the world and always completes his missions. He lives next door to a single mum, Gillian (Amber Valletta), with whom he has fallen in love. He decides to retire from the spy game so that they can get married and lead a normal life.
But there is one big hurdle. Gillian won’t marry him unless her children – teenage stepdaughter Farren (Madeline Carroll), 11-year-old Ian (Will Shadley), and 4-year-old Nora (Alina Foley) – like him. They don’t. He therefore has to find a way of winning both their trust and their affection. When Gillian’s father becomes ill, Bob seizes the opportunity to get to know the children by minding them while she’s away. The children have other ideas and make things as difficult as possible.
Bob’s task is further complicated by the escape of a spy he has just caught. The CIA asks him to help, but he refuses. Ian tries to ‘dig up some dirt’ on Bob to stop Bob and Gillian getting married. To do this, he breaks into Bob’s computer where he downloads what he thinks is a rock concert onto his iPod. This turns out to be a top-secret formula owned by the Russians. They trace the download back to Bob’s house.
Bob now finds himself protecting the children and fighting the Russian spy network at the same time.
Family breakdown; separation from a parent; the world of espionage
This movie contains frequent martial arts-style fighting, which involves kicking, punching and throwing people around. Characters also use guns, knives and a flamethrower. The three child stars are involved in several violent scenes. For example:
- The female Russian spy Tatiana tries to grab Nora, who screams, bites her and gets thrown but is caught by Bob.
- One of the spies, Larry (Lucas Till), produces a large knife and tries to attack both Bob and the children.
- Farren drops a TV on Larry’s head.
- Nora shoots one of the spies with a special spy pen. The spy falls through the wall.
- Gillian and her stepdaughter have screaming arguments.
Content that may disturb children
Children in this age group are likely to be scared by the violence described above.
Younger children in this age group might be disturbed by some of the violent scenes and situations faced by the children.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.
None of concern
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
None of concern
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Bob and Gillian kiss a couple of times.
- Farren wears brief and tight clothing, which Gillian doesn’t like.
None of concern
This movie contains some coarse language, and lots of insults, putdowns and name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Spy Next Door is an action movie aimed at children, with a format that will be familiar to adult Jackie Chan fans. The plot has a serious side too. The children are not just involved in adventures, but must also come to terms with changes in relationships and a new parent.
The movie’s main messages are that:
- the people who care about you can be family even if they aren’t blood relatives
- intelligence is just as valuable as being able to fight or throw a ball.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the importance of family and honesty.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of:
- using martial arts-style fighting to resolve conflicts
- imitating the stunts shown in the movie.