I understand fully that kids aren't the most discriminating audience in the world, but adults should still hold filmmakers responsible for some measure of quality in regard to family films. The Spy Next Door, brought to us by comedically tin-eared director Brian Levant (Snow Dogs, Jingle All the Way), is just plain lazy on all levels. Not content to rummage through the garbage bins of the action-star-who-can't-take-care-of-kids subgenre, searching for uninspired gags like one in which star Jackie Chan can't cook oatmeal, it also raids the waste baskets for the discarded bits from international superspy kid flicks (a subgenre long stripped bare of any of its original charm after never-ending waves of Spy Kids imitators).
Chan is in full-on clown mode as Chinese Intelligence agent Bob Ho, a spy next door to Amber Valleta's Gillian, who he's also dating, and her three children, teen Farren (Madeline Carroll), precocious Ian (Will Shadley), and toddler Nora (Alina Foley). As the film opens, Ho is retiring from the spy biz and wants to take his relationship with Gillian to the next level by coming clean to her about his secret double-life. Gillian isn't even ready to listen to Bob until her, frankly, hateful children warm up to him. At this point we got a convenient plot contrivance that sends Gilian out of town to her ailing father's side, allowing Bob to watch the children for an extended period of time with the hope that they'll all bond as a family.