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Jackie Chan has been scaling back his headlong rush into the action-oriented abyss, mixing his slap-sticky martial arts mania with misdirection based on his bumbling and mangling of the English language. His pairings with various comic performers (Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson) have rendered him a box-office draw of some note, but now he’s preparing to go it alone in the family friendly market.

In a different age, this might not have been so difficult because there is a distinct throwback vibe to his talent and charm.

Even in an action context, Chan has always projected acrobatic grace and real comic timing.

Unfortunately, this Spy caper about a recently retired CIA operative (Chan) attempting to woo his beautiful next door neighbor (Amber Valletta, the film nerd’s plus one) and her three kids without blowing his cover feels like a Spy Kids knockoff in desperate need of the touch of Robert Rodriguez, a filmmaker still connected to his inner child because even young kids aren’t going to be fooled by Chan’s lame television sitcom Spy guy.

It seems Chan is going to have to wait until the Karate Kid for a chance to chop off a bigger slice of the box-office grosses. Grade: D