Pros:Much more imaginative and exciting than the Power Rangers or Pokemon.
Cons:AN occasional special effect is cheesy and obvious
The Bottom Line: James Bond meets Harry Potter and director Robert Rodriguez keeps the action moving. It's bright, colorful and a lot of fun. Brings you back to being a kid.
Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
Recommend this product?
Spy Kids is a movie that harkens me back to the kind of film I really enjoyed as a child. When I was first discovering movies as a means to supplement my imagination, my favorite ones dealt with characters that got swept up in marvelous adventures that usually involved a dash of fantasy. The Star Wars and Indiana Jones series were just starting points to the direction of other beloved titles like Cloak and Dagger, Explorers and Tron. And if Spy Kids came out during that period in my life, it most assuredly would have made that list.
Taking a cue from the world of once upon a time, Spy Kids starts its tale with a bedtime story of the world’s two greatest spies and how they fell in love. Gregorio (Antonio Banderas) and Ingrid (Carla Gugino), once assigned to eliminate each other, decided to team up and take on the greatest challenge that agents of their caliber could ever face: marriage.
Now retired and taking on the even greater responsibility of parenthood with their children Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara), Gregorio & Ingrid still like to keep in touch with the gadgets hidden around their home and dream of just one more opportunity to “save the world…again.” But their plans are foiled when they are kidnapped by criminal mastermind Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming) and sidekick, Minion (Tony Shalhoub) who run a colorfully devious children’s show to the likes of the Teletubbies on Barney’s acid stash.
So it’s up to Carmen and Juni to face the truth about their parents in order to save them from Floop’s evil clutches. Carmen, being the eldest, takes charge over her younger, more fearful, brother as they must outwit the baddies underwater, in flight and on the playground. Imagine James Bond meeting Harry Potter and you start to get the picture.
And that’s really all there is to get. Obviously, there are twists and turns and more to the bad guys’ plot, but none of that is going to get you into the theater any quicker. This is a film where your imagination better be on and your head tuned off to logic or the simply fun nature of it all will not grab you. One only has to open their eyes to see that everyone involved with this project is having fun.
Antonio Banderas is a natural comedic actor and he’s matched well with Gugino who possesses the ability to be both maternal and enormously sexy. Alan Cumming specializes in playing conniving sleazeballs, but also blends his evilness with a childlike innocence that is perfect for the material. Tony Shalhoub is a priceless character actor, especially in a comedy, and he gets laughs just by his mere presence. Same goes for Robert Patrick who gets a couple of big laughs in just a couple of scenes. But the biggest surprise of the film is in store for audiences during the final scene, with a great cameo, who manages to all but steal the movie. I could almost recommend the film solely for this moment.
As for the spy kids, Alexa Vega projects an intelligence beyond her years and it’ll be interesting to follow her career while Daryl Sabara seems to be, well, a kid trying his hardest to act. Sometimes it fits just right and other times, well, kids will be kids. I’m not about to critically mash him Jake Lloyd-style as he’s suitable enough for the puerile nature of the adventure.
Clearly the biggest star of the film though is writer/director Robert Rodriguez, who continues to prove that he is one of the best constructors of solid entertainment in the business. With only a handful of films under his belt, Rodriguez always displays the kind of energy that hack music video directors want to show off, while still telling the audience a story. He doesn’t use flash as a run-on sentence. He uses it as punctuation. His elevated level of action is a highlight of his El Mariachi films and From Dusk Till Dawn, but witness his segment in the Four Rooms anthology. 20 minutes of solid laughs in a live-action cartoon about two misbehaving children in a hotel and their torture of the bellhop who fears their parents. Spy Kids follows in the same tradition.
It’s a big, extended live-action pop-up book that adults will be able to smile with alongside their own kids. In an era when kids are subjected to thoughtless, soulless ridiculously uninspired marketing schemes like the Power Rangers and Pokemon, here comes an imaginative, hilarious, exciting, special-effects filled extravaganza with positive messages about family where nobody swears, nobody is killed and everyone is guaranteed a good time.
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up to Age 4