Australian Council on Children and the Media

Spy Next Door, The

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Themes and violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Spy Next Door, The
  • a review of Spy Next Door, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 March 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to themes and violence
Children aged 8-13 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and violent scenes, including stunts which may be imitated.
Children over the age of 13 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Spy Next Door, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild violence
Length 94 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Bob Ho (Jackie Chan) is a Chinese spy who has been on loan to the CIA. He is one of the best in the world and always follows through and completes his missions. He lives next door to a single mum, Gillian (Amber Valletta) with whom he has fallen in love. He decides to retire from the spy game so that they can get married and lead a normal life.

There is however one big hurdle. Gillian won’t marry him unless the children, her teenage stepdaughter Farren (Madeline Carroll), 11-year-old Ian (Will Shadley) and 4-year-old Nora (Alina Foley)) like him and they don’t. He therefore has to find a way of winning both their trust and their affection. When Gillian’s father becomes ill, Bob seizes the opportunity to get to know the children by minding them when she is away. The children, however, have other ideas and make things as difficult as possible.

Bob’s task is further complicated by the fact that a spy whom he has just apprehended has escaped. He is called by the CIA to help but refuses. Ian tries to ‘dig up some dirt’ on Bob to prevent his mum from marrying him. To do this he breaks into Bob’s computer where he downloads what he thinks is a rock concert onto his iPod. It is instead a very secret formula owned by the Russians and they trace the download back to Bob’s house.

Bob now finds himself protecting the children and fighting the Russian spy network at the same time.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Family breakdown; Separation from a parent; the world of espionage

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

This movie contains frequent martial arts style fighting, which involves kicking and punching and throwing people around, but also guns, knives and a flamethrower. The three child stars are involved in a number of violent scenes, including

  • The female Russian spy, Tatiana tries to grab Nora  who screams, bites her and gets thrown but is caught by Bob
  • One of the spies Larry (Lucas Till) produces a large knife and tries to attack both Bob and the children.
  • Farren  drops a TV on Larry’s head
  • Nora shoots one of the spies with a special spy pen and he falls through the wall.
  • Screaming arguments between Gillian and her stepdaughter

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group are likely to be scared by the violence described above

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are likely to be scared by the violence described above

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may find some of the violent scenes, and the situations faced by the children, disturbing.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Bob and Gillian kiss a couple of times
  • Farren wears brief and tight clothing which is objected to by her stepmother

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • beeped out, but fairly obvious, expletives used in out-takes shown during the credits
  • numerous insults and putdowns , particularly those used by the children about Bob, including  "loser," "nerd," "geek," "boring," "robot," and "cyborg."

In a nutshell

The Spy Next Door is an action movie aimed at children with a format that will be familiar to adult Jackie Chan fans. In this film the plot has a serious side in that the children are not just involved in adventures, but also have to come to terms with changes in relationships and a new parent.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • the importance of family
  • the necessity to be honest
  • people who care about you can be family even if they are not blood relatives
  • intelligence is just as valuable as being able to fight or throw a ball

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the real-life consequences of

  • the use of martial arts style fighting to resolve conflicts
  • imitating the stunts seen in the film

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