Nor is the biggest issue the lack of momentum or stakes. Between the small items being stolen and the lack of involvement of the cops, the importance AC puts on the investigation strains. If the owner does not think it more than a mild inconvenience, how do the filmmakers expect to keep the audience engaged? Couple this disinterest with several plot holes and filler scenes, and you’re left with a movie that could be cut down to 20 minutes and leave everything important intact.
It is AC’s first day when she goes to the corner store and is told about the thefts. This means they absolutely must have started before she and her family moved there. So, when caught with a box of items from the store, why is she instantly pinned the thief? Especially when the owner hired her to catch the thief! AC could easily swing this into either not being able to capture the burglar but retrieving the stolen goods, or that she was setting up a trap. It is the former, by the by, but her terrible mom and the stupid store owner don’t listen to anything she has to say and won’t even let her get her evidence.
The other plot hole comes in the form of dialogue. While gathering information, the shopkeep tells AC that her prime suspect had a friend, who was a girl, who had to leave town a short while back. AC gets a bit jealous and starts believing that the neighbor kidnapped a person. It turns out that this “girl friend” is a dog. A literal canine. Who talks like that? In no way does the store owner make clear, allude to, or suggest who he is talking about is anything but human. The problem is that Next Door Spy is so poorly written that the filmmakers needed a way to get AC from plot point C to D but couldn’t do it organically. So, they wrote in a sequence where someone speaks like no human ever would and that he never did before or after that moment, to artificially change the stakes, despite how non-existent those already were.
“…there is no emotional investment that occurs…”
As bad as all these problems in Next Door Spy are, and they are huge, they aren’t the most glaring ones. No, the biggest issue is the characters. They are terribly written, one-dimensional, and act with little sense. Obviously, the mom is the biggest culprit here. After unloading the moving van and ordering pizza for dinner, she gives her three kids presents. The young boy gets a helmet for when he rides his scooter. The eldest daughter gets a new phone. What pray tell does she give AC? A new fedora or some computer parts to build spy gadgets, perhaps? Incorrect.
Her mother gives AC a red t-shirt with a star on it (very Steven Universe-esque). So, this mom clearly understands two of three kids pretty well. But for the other one, she is actively trying to change her because… because… because she is the bloody worst. Lip service is paid to AC lying to get attention, but this never actually happens in the film. Stories of her lies are never spelled out, so it feels like her mom is just not paying any mind to AC because she does not understand her kid’s hobbies. She is a terrible mother, and her lack of effort to help, talk to, reason with, or understand AC means that Next Door Spy is DOA almost as soon as it starts.
As such, there is no emotional investment that occurs whatsoever. Couple that with the poorly thought out plot and the simply horrid animation and character designs, and you are left with a movie that is not just boring, but bad on every conceivable level. There is no reason to ever show any kids Next Door Spy, when so many better options, such as Sgt. Stubby, can entertain the entire family.
"…is DOA almost as soon as it starts."