WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

PLUGGED IN RATING

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

No one expects much from buttoned-up, bespectacled, sweater-wearing pen importer Bob Ho. Especially not his neighbor's kids. And especially not when he dates their mother, Gillian. If most children were given a choice of whom Mom should go out with, they'd choose a fireman or a fighter pilot. Not a geeky pen importer. But Gillian gets to make her own decisions—and her choice is Mr. Ho. Where her kids see a nerdy loser, she sees dependability and a good heart, qualities her cheating ex-husband doesn't have.

Still, Gillian's 13-year-old stepdaughter, Farren, and younger children Ian and Nora have no problem letting her know how they feel about Bob. In fact, when Gillian asks him to baby-sit while she's out of town, Ian says they'd rather go into foster care or juvenile hall.

But Bob gladly takes charge regardless. The pen gig is just a ruse, after all. He's really an international spy on loan to the CIA. (Take that, fighter jocks!) If he can dupe dictators, how hard can playing house be?

He soon finds out.

After Ian wreaks havoc by mistakenly downloading a lucrative, top secret file, Bob's archenemy, a Russian terrorist, is now trying to kill him and the kids.

So while making breakfast, carpooling and enforcing bedtimes—not to mention dodging bullets and knives—Bob gradually wins the kids' respect. And when Farren, Ian and Nora learn that he's actually a spy, their admiration level soars. Gillian's, however, dips when she learns he's The Spy Next Door.

Advertisement

Positive Elements

Gillian tells Bob that her kids are her priority, and if he marries her, they all come as a package deal. That's no problem for him. He loves her and the kids and says he wants to marry all of them.

Bob risks his life to protect the United States, colleagues, Gillian and the kids. Family is greatly valued, and Bob serves the children willingly—even when they're mean to him—gradually learning how to interact with them effectively, love them and gain their respect.

Spiritual Content

A wedding ceremony in a church is shown. Fate is mentioned.

Sexual Content

Couples kiss. Ian, who's 10 years old, brags at school about how he watched pay-per-view porn in high definition and felt like he was actually at the Playboy mansion's New Year's Eve party. He suggestively hits on a teenage girl. (Bob scolds him for it.)

A college student makes moves on Farren—who is fond of wearing very short skirts, shirts that show her midriff and tight jeans. (Her mother and Bob call her outfits inappropriate and ask her to change. She does.)

Violent Content

This being a Jackie Chan movie, The Spy Next Door is sated with stylish kung fu moves meant to impress, not necessarily maim or kill. Kicks, body slams and blows to the head are common. There's a fair amount of leaping from heights, gunfire, explosives, and highly choreographed knife and sword fights. Bob plays a rather rhythmic tune on a guy's head with skillets.

A bicycle hits a man's groin, temporarily incapacitating him. Bob hits baddies with chairs. A flame thrower (in the guise of a cigarette lighter) blasts away several times, once knocking a man out of a second-story window. And the children take bad guys down, too, using spy tools to protect themselves—which usually means a villain gets violently knocked down or out. Nora bites a man in self-defense. Farren drops a TV on a bad guy's head. A man falls off a roof. Gillian slaps Bob.

Crude or Profane Language

A use or two of "heck" and "freaking." One possible "h‑‑‑." (The baddie's Russian accent makes it very hard to tell.) Name-calling includes "psycho," "drone," "geek, "dork" and "nerd." Outtakes contain bleeped foul language.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Bob's colleague, Colton, says that a bad guy is "as gone as a rum cake at an AA meeting."

Other Negative Elements

Colton also advises Bob not to marry. Instead, he cynically says, "Just find a woman you're going to hate in five years and give her your house."

The kids—Farren in particular—are really disrespectful to Bob, mocking him, lying, locking him out of their house, violently tripping him and going through his things when they break into his home. Even though they grow to respect Bob and this behavior stops, they aren't disciplined for it.

Farren and Ian fight a lot, playing mean tricks on each other, yelling names and saying things such as, "I'm going to kill you."

Russians are called "Ruskies." A slur is also made against Chinese folks.

Bob lies about Halloween being his favorite holiday when he doesn't even know what it is. Ian is infamous for his lying at school—and he gets angry with Bob when the man won't lie to stick up for his tall tales.

Peeing into a bottle is joked about. We see Ian about to use the restroom. A filthy men's room takes center stage when Bob must accompany Nora inside.

The kids complain because Bob doesn't own any R-rated DVDs. Music piracy is joked about and minimized.

Bob throws Nora high into the air in order to dress her when she resists him. (She lands perfectly placed in her pajamas.)

Conclusion

Strip away the violence and other negatives in this flick and you can see that The Spy Next Door is attempting to safely secure the happiness of a developing stepfamily. That's no insignificant thing, actually, because this year stepfamilies are predicted to outnumber all other types of American families. More than 1,300 new stepfamilies are forming every day in the U.S. alone.

It's refreshing, then, to see a fictional clan in the making progress from cuffs to kisses. But real life is a lot more complicated than screen life—so let the audience beware. The average stepfamily of any age takes seven years to fully bond—a far cry from Hollywood's charming 90-minute shortcuts. And depending on the complexity of the stepfamily—Gillian's situation is very complex, for example—the remarriage divorce rate is high.

In Bob and Gillian's case, it helps a lot that the kids come around and eventually root for the nuptials. Ian says he'll personally write the wedding invitations, and Farren tells her mom that she'll never find another man as good as Bob. That helps in real life, too, but it's far from foolproof.

Not that I'm really looking for family-blending advice in a spy spoof that has far more in common with Vin Diesel's Pacifier flick than it does with, say, Ron Deal's book The Smart Stepfamily. Because, really, The Spy Next Door is little more than a silly slapstick caper that glibly dispenses comedic action, some sexual content and a whole lot of disrespect right alongside its lessons.

At least the good guys win, the world is safe, Bob and his new family learn about love, and Jackie Chan can still jump higher and do more midair twists than an Olympic gymnast.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!