Bob Ho (Jackie Chan) just wants to retire from being an international spy and live a quiet life in the suburbs with his girlfriend and her kids. A group of ridiculous Russian villains have another plan for him. Most of the film is dedicated to Bob and the kids adapting to each other and his pathetic attempts to try and get them to like him. An occasional cut-back to the hapless Russian villains occurs but I am sorry to report this is a "family" movie in the worst way. The worst way being how it does not ever establish a real relationship between the characters to constitute the happy family togetherness the end should bring. It merely treads along never actually trying to make us connect with the characters and their plight. As for the Russian villains plot...the leader is more concerned with finding a tasteful modern outfit than actually taking over the world. There is no intrigue or suspense. It all is quite obvious how the film will end and everything that happens up to the end. The real antagonists of the film are the children. The filmmakers may as well have cut out the entire B storyline of the Russians and focused more on developing the familial bond. Then perhaps the movie would not feel like a bunch of wasted film stock.
At one point in the film one of the children refers to Bob Ho (Jackie Chan) as a drone. I must agree. Not only is Bob's character a drone bore with little personality the rest of the cast simply follows his lead. The charisma you would expect from three rambunctious kids is nonexistent. They merely say their lines one by one, as if taking turns politely, without delving into the angst and frustration meant to be seen from them in terms of Bob marrying their mother. As for Bob himself, he has a few quirky moments where a glimmer of personality shines through but for the most part he appears out of place and slightly constipated when delivering his lines. It is a constant look of deep concentration and consternation while bumbling his way through trying to cook breakfast, dress a child for bed, or deal with the villains threatening the children's lives. As for Gillian (Amber Valetta), the mother, if she is actually angry at the situation Bob has put the children in danger-wise you could have fooled me. The flatness of her voice voids out any possibility that we, as viewers, even remotely believe she has a sliver of feelings or emotions brewing. All in all, not one single performance provides a sliver of hope for this film.
Jackie Chan is masterful with props. Be it a simple folding chair, a ladder, or a child size bicycle. He works these props into the action sequences with great accomplishment but even still it cannot salvage the short-lived thrills the action offers the viewer. It may be expected for a film starring Jackie Chan would deliver a great deal of action packed kung-fuish moments but alas this is more of a movie about a man trying to win over his girlfriends kids then fight some bad guys. The choreography may be well done but if you can even remember a great scene of action when walking out of the theatre I would be shocked.
Not one laugh was heard in the entire 90 minutes in the theatre. That statement should answer the question of whether this movie is funny or mildly comedic. It is not remotely funny. The jokes are gimmicky and poorly written. Jackie Chan (Bob) tries very hard to make things funny but nothing helps. The kids say and do a couple things that could have been good for a laugh but they fall flat. The performances are so mediocre that comedy is above their talent level. I am yawning just recalling how unfunny this film is/was.
Comedy, Children and Family
January 15, 2010