Jackie Chan, the world's most amiable martial artist, isn't exactly stretching himself in the kiddie comedy "The Spy Next Door." He plays Bob Ho, a dork whose argyle sweaters hide his real identity: a CIA operative.
The film opens with one of Chan's acrobatic (and blood-free) kick-fests, but it's Bob's final mission. As he explains to his colleagues (George Lopez and Billy Ray Cyrus), Bob wants to marry his neighbor, Gillian (Amber Valletta), and perhaps become the boring businessman he's been pretending to be.
The only problem: Gillian's children. Little Nora (Alina Foley), precocious Ian (Will Shadley) and rebellious tween Farren (Madeline Carroll) hate Bob with a passion. So when Gillian leaves town for a few days, Bob offers to baby-sit and do some bonding. Guess how that goes.
"The Spy Next Door" looks terrible - discolored, cheap and carelessly directed by Brian Levant ("Beethoven") - but it's saved, barely, by several cheeky jokes. The Russian villain tries to blend in by dressing like Eminem, the kids get in some decent one-liners and Bob proves his hipness by producing a bootleg CD of Iggy Pop and David Bowie in Shanghai.
Throw in one of Chan's closing-credit gag reels, and you've got a kids' film that won't completely waste a parent's time.