The Spy Next Door

Chan chokes

THE SPY NEXT DOOR (Brian Levant). 92 minutes. Opens Friday (January 15). For venues, trailers and times, see Movies. Rating: N

Like Arnie in Kindergarten Cop and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Race To Witch Mountain, Jackie Chan is a faded action star whose cartoonish physical appeal has caught on with the preschool audience.[rssbreak]

In The Spy Next Door, he stars as a spy who tries to bond with his girlfriend’s smack-talking, more-annoying-than-cute children while battling some Russian baddies straight out of the lamest Bond flicks. It’s all an excuse to watch Chan toss children around like pancakes and wield explosive gadgets to make breakfast.

There’s a lot more juvenile kicking and screaming than actual ass-kicking, presumably because the aging actor is nowadays reduced to relying on stunt doubles.

It’s no surprise that the best bits happen during the credits, which poke self-conscious fun at the star. A flashy opening montage revels in Chan’s former gravity-defying glory – sampling his martial arts classics and the Rush Hour series – and the film closes with an embarrassing blooper sequence where Chan can barely kick a chair into the air.

We don’t need the movie in-between the credits to realize that Chan just can’t rumble like he used to.

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