Brian Levant, possibly best known as the director of the recent Flintstones films, heads a widely experienced crew, and a cast headed by Chan Kong-sang (better known as the one and only Jackie Chan) in this ‘martial arts action comedy film’. Unrepentantly a kid’s film, Bob Ho (Jackie Chan) is a Chinese superspy on loan to the CIA who quits the spying game to settle down with his next-door neighbour – hopefully soon-to-be-wife, Gillian (Amber Valletta). To seal the deal though he faces the greatest challenge of his life in winning over her three children, who are all firmly opposed to such a union.
The plot isn’t given much consideration; being a kid’s film even the villains are somewhat lovable. British (and Icelandic) children may well be delighted to see Magnús Scheving – aka Sportacus from hit TV show Lazytown, as the comical Russian villain Poldark. Despite retiring Bob still must save the day by thwarting Poldark’s (somewhat) evil plan. How can Bob save the world and win the kid’s over at the same time? By letting the kid’s (all aged about 8 – 13) into the dark world of espionage of course! The story is basic, but then again so was Avatar’s.
It is all rather forgettable, for viewers of all ages. When this assignment came onto my desk some three weeks after the film’s release I thought ‘wow, I have a desk?’, but also ‘how the heck am I supposed to remember anything about this film?’ A quick glance on the film’s Wikipedia page tells me it was “universally panned by critics”. Certainly a lot of reviews have cruelly dismissed Chan as a washed-up has-been, compared the director to Uwe Boll and one critic called the picture itself “an incompetence pile”. Now what an ‘incompetence pile’ is supposed to look like I do not know. But I do know that this film made me smile. It was not a bad movie.
I cannot bring myself to recommend this movie, but I won’t completely condemn it either. Having said that let us now hold a post-mortem on the film’s flaws: the characters are two dimensional, the acting was passable, the script is almost an irrelevance, the martial arts were standard fare, the action is not worth mentioning. They are all stock characters: soccer mom (check), unbearable teenage girl (check), nerd boy (check), small cute child (check), best friend character type b (check).
A big question that needs to be answered when talking about a kid’s film is ‘what did you learn child?’ To be fair you get a lot of valuable lessons for your money: don’t lie, never judge a book by its covers, marry a boring guy instead of that good looking jerk who’ll leave your ass literally holding the baby, stay out of adult’s hard drives, keep your filthy nose out of adult’s business, quit whining, Slavs are bad, give ethnics a chance (those last two contradict each other quite a bit).
As of yet I have commented little on the comedic aspect of the picture (is it lulzworthy?). The film scores just about a pass on this one, it’s a funny. I have been in a very good mood for the past few weeks, so if you are reaching for the razor blade right now then don’t expect it to save your life. As I remember it, and as is usually the case with these things, the best bits are all in the trailer. It is kid’s humour; there is no social commentary or pop culture references, just dudes getting whacked with frying pans and suchlike.
If the comedy was fresher and the script tighter then this might be one worth seeing. As it is there is little to recommend it. It is so very safe zone. If your kid is insistent upon renting this from the DVD store then watching it would be less annoying than arguing with it, if you are stuck on an airplane and this is the in-flight movie then you should definitely give it a chance.