The Spy Next Door (2010)

AKA Spy Daddy, Kung Fu Nanny, Double Mission

Starring Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, Madeline Carroll, Will Shadley, Alina Foley, Magnús Scheving, Billy Ray Cyrus, George Lopez, Katherine Boecher, Mia Stallard, Maverick McWilliams, Quinn Mason, Lucas Till

Directed by Brian Levant

Expectations: I don’t expect much at all.


I don’t know what I expected this movie to be, other than the reasonable assumption that it’d be another in a long line of Jackie Chan spy movies. When the movie began with a montage of old Jackie Chan spy movies, I was surprised and taken aback. Why would a movie open with a montage of movies that it has no chance of matching? But as the story of The Spy Next Door developed, this opening actually makes a lot of sense. By opening with the old, amazing clips, we see how Jackie has defended the world against insurmountable odds throughout his career; he is an indestructible machine capable of taking on literally anything the villains can throw his way. But one thing Jackie has never had to contend with on-screen is the more mundane, everyday task of managing a family and earning the respect and trust of potential step-children. So while this is “another Jackie Chan spy movie,” it is unique among the bunch.

Jackie plays Bob Ho, international spy on loan to the CIA and living life undercover in New Mexico as an importer of pens. His neighbor and main squeeze is Gillian (Amber Valletta), a single mother of three: seven-year-old Nora (Alina Foley), 10-year-old Ian (Will Shadley), and teenager Farren (Madeline Carroll). Bob and Gillian’s relationship is getting serious, and Bob wants to finally divulge his true profession, retire and begin a new life with Gillian. But because it’s a movie, he’s interrupted by an urgent job which complicates matters, and before you know it, Bob is tasked with caring for the three kids on his own while a group of Russians hunts him down.

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Jingle All the Way (1996)

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Robert Conrad, Martin Mull, Jake Lloyd, James Belushi, E.J. De La Pena, Laraine Newman, Justin Chapman, Harvey Korman, Richard Moll, Daniel Riordan

Directed by Brian Levant

Expectations: Low. This can’t be good. I’m just hoping for some good Arnold lines.


Fifteen years. Fifteen years it took to wear me down enough to accept the idea of watching this one. When Jingle All the Way was released in 1996 I was fifteen, and there was no way in hell I was going to watch my most favorite action star sliding around a department store in a battle with Sinbad for a stupid Power Rangers rip-off doll. No way, no how. These days I feel somewhat different about the whole thing. I don’t watch Arnold films hardly at all anymore and he’s been out of the Hollywood scene for several years so there hasn’t been anything new to entice me. Over these years I’ve slowly grown more and more desperate, willing to watch anything he was in, if only to hear him say stupid lines in that wonderful accent I love so well. During one of my more exuberant Arnold moments, I found myself watching as many Arnold quote compilation videos on YouTube as I could get my mouse on. One of these featured Arnold’s famous line from Jingle All the Way, “Put the cookie down! Now!” remixed into a techno song. This, coupled with a newfound enjoyment of Power Rangers, led me to say yes to Turbo Man and give Jingle All the Way a go.

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