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Overall Rating
3.79

Awesome: 25%
Worth A Look56.25%
Just Average: 1.79%
Pretty Crappy: 7.14%
Sucks: 9.82%

10 reviews, 52 user ratings


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Spy Kids
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Rodriguez' fun first kiddie flick."
4 stars

Even in his gun-heavy films for grown-ups -- 'El Mariachi,' 'Desperado,' 'From Dusk Till Dawn' -- Robert Rodriguez has always had an infectious, childlike sense of play. (It was missing from his competent but undistinguished 'The Faculty,' where he was essentially a hired gun.) It would seem natural, then, to turn him loose on a kiddie adventure and give him money for lavish, surreal sets and special effects.

Spy Kids, which Rodriguez wrote, directed, and edited, plays like the pilot episode for a smarter-than-average Saturday-morning kids' show that you always read good things about but always somehow forget to catch. It's considerably colorful and entertaining while it spins in front of you; it's also almost immediately forgettable.

That may be by design, though. Rodriguez knows kids (he has three of them), and he knows that kids love repetition. Spy Kids is the sort of light comedic caper kids will want to watch over and over, with lots of eye-catching weird stuff, like robots made entirely out of thumbs or an evil lair with a jigsaw-puzzle motif out of Dali. Adults may respond gratefully, in that the movie -- unlike the majority of crap shovelled at kids -- is far from stupid, it's energetically crafted, it prizes brains and bravery over brawn and force, and it's not weighed down by winking pop-culture references that are meant to keep parents from yawning but usually don't.

Adult fans of Rodriguez' other films will also be glad he's finally got a major hit on his hands, and he did it without selling out. Spy Kids feels like a Rodriguez riff through and through. The young heroes, Carmen (Alexa Vera) and Juni (Daryl Sabara), are not lovable wise-cracking urchins but regular kids whose parents (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) just happen to be spies. When Mom and Dad are kidnapped by the evil genius Floop (Alan Cumming), host of a kiddie show that resembles Pee-wee's Playhouse more than a little, Carmen and Juni rush to the rescue, aided by a variety of nifty vehicles and gadgets. Rodriguez consistently gives his heroes the sort of immensely cool toys most kids would love to play with.

In fact, for that very reason, Spy Kids often comes across as a very, very covert broadside at the James Bond series, which is, after all, a boys-with-toys franchise; it's as if Rodriguez is breaking the spy genre down to its essentials and finding that, when you get right down to it and take away the Bond girls, these movies are for kids. (Or at least for men who like to regress to adolescent boyhood for two hours.) Rodriguez generously makes Carmen the older, smarter one, and Juni the fearful one; both kids, though, get to rise to the occasion, as when Carmen swoops around on a jet backpack and saves her brother's life, or when Juni finds a way to communicate with a backward-talking mutant in Floop's dungeon.

In general, Spy Kids is light-hearted and sometimes ingenious family entertainment. However ... "What's missing?" asks Floop when he senses that his show lacks a certain something. Spy Kids does, too, and I think I can pin it down: the film carries the vague insecurity of the beginning of a franchise (the studio has already greenlit the sequel). Obviously, nothing in the movie stands out as being bad, but nothing really stands out as being amazing, either. You occasionally see Rodriguez pulling back, not because this is a kids' movie but because he wants to hand Dimension a solid start to a Spy Kids tentpole, without anything too outrageous or expensive.

The action sequences go by fast and aren't given time to build excitement or laughs (the way that, say, Rodriguez' hilarious segment of Four Rooms built one disaster atop another); there aren't any set pieces that lodge in your mind, just odd, funky details like a floor that seems to fall away but doesn't, or robotic spy kids whose eyes glow (like the kids in Village of the Damned), or Tony Shalhoub's quiet, witty bit of business as a Floop minion (he's even named Minion) who tries to sit in his boss's diabolical chair but can't quite get comfortable in it.

Rodriguez seems comfortable in his own chair, though. Though he hasn't provided 'Spy Kids' with any glorious moments of action-adventure excess reminiscent of past classics or even his own films, he may have begun something here. Making a film for kids, with intelligence and without condescension, can be a greater challenge than making an intense art-house drama. It'd be interesting to see what such directors as Spike Lee or Steven Soderbergh would do in the kiddie genre, now that Rodriguez has made it look cool and fun to follow his lead.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4708&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/24/07 20:57:37
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User Comments

5/26/08 PAUL SHORTT NOT ONLY TERRIFICALLY ENTERTAINING, BUT HAS A GREAT MESSAGE, AS WELL 4 stars
1/09/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
3/31/06 Rose Marie the director is crud, the movie is crap!the cast is all wrong and horibble! 1 stars
3/30/06 Anthony Feor A great kid flick 4 stars
3/25/06 Quigley whoa, people, explain the high ratings. it is crap. even antonio banderas didn't save it! 1 stars
9/14/05 Jonathon Holmes great fun 4 stars
8/05/05 Zack What was Robert Rodriguez thinking?!? 1 stars
6/13/05 Agent Sands An overlooked gem. 4 stars
12/09/04 Kristina Williams not a bad kids flick. I can sit through it without howling 4 stars
10/07/04 tatum Big loud fun 4 stars
8/30/04 aussieemmy hey this movie stars Cheech, so any one dissing this movie sucks! 5 stars
8/03/04 Katie This movie is great! The cast is awesome and the story is fun. 5 stars
5/31/04 Nobody Very fakey, somewhat boring, not very funny. 2 stars
12/02/03 Mr. Hat (previously Joe Zappa) It, as well as 2 & 3, are much better than the average kids' movie!! 5 stars
8/29/03 DEVON look, daryl is hot,smart, and turkish, you have a big mouth, you sorry jerk!!! 5 stars
7/25/03 Christian Harding Ideotic humor+some (as in 1 or 2) interesting scenes+weird characters=Spy Kids 3 stars
7/17/03 Chris Entertaing but not without flaws. Still it's style was unseen before. My family enjoyed it. 4 stars
6/20/03 jim movie sucks totall ass, unless ur a 6 year old, be ashamed of urself for liking this movie 1 stars
6/15/03 josh love to see an x-rated virsin 5 stars
6/09/03 Jareth Much better than the last 10 Bonds films 4 stars
2/20/03 scott SHUT UP ALEX THIS MOVIE ROCKS 5 stars
1/26/03 alex why do pussy like andrew patrick watch fuckin kid movies like spy kids, man up u littlegil 1 stars
12/16/02 Laura *Mrs. Floop* This movie is my favourite movie of all time. It is fantasticly made and Floop is gorgeous! 5 stars
8/24/02 Turkish blew total ass poo, jus rent the goonies instead, and andrew patricks a pussy 1 stars
8/16/02 Andrew Patrick Spy Kids Is Probably The Best Spy Movie Ever 5 stars
8/16/02 AJ Go in openminded and knowing its a kid's movie.. Overall it rocks 5 stars
8/16/02 scott great but spy kids 2 is better 4 stars
8/10/02 J I use to love it but after that lame "re-release" and better sequel I'm lowering my rating. 4 stars
7/27/02 spencer stupid shit that would never happen no plot 1 stars
6/11/02 qtpie Antonia Banderas was hot in those working glasses 5 stars
3/11/02 Emilia The bad guy is the weirdest..fits the whole movie 4 stars
1/19/02 Andrew Carden Uncomfortable and Uneven Kiddie Flick. 2 stars
12/26/01 Phil M. Afficianado Very cool. An eyefull of color and activity and imagination. Good spirited, too. Fun. 5 stars
10/15/01 Mr. Hat Some of the stuff is so cool, it makes me jealous because I don't have it. 5 stars
9/25/01 INCUBATOR Not funny, no nothing.....real piece of crap 1 stars
8/10/01 Jessel GREAT flick for the kids who will love it. Banderas is excellent, disliked only by skanks 4 stars
7/16/01 cheryl hated spy kids HATED antonio banderas - a greasy wetback with a lisp. 1 stars
6/21/01 sumair adfd 4 stars
5/19/01 Billy Blah at best 1 stars
5/09/01 Annie Tangalin It's alot funnier than any comedy show I've seen!!! 5 stars
4/20/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Funnier than 8-out-of-10 gross-out comedies you'll see this year...I'm serious... 4 stars
4/19/01 Stephen Booth Appeals on many levels, not to saccerine but sweet enough not to scare the kids. 4 stars
4/16/01 gloria fantastic movie for adults and kids. 5 stars
4/16/01 JustJeff I liked "Play It to the Bone" better - too bad Antonio did whup on the brats in this flick. 1 stars
4/15/01 Rampage perfect for the entire family, Banderas was great 5 stars
4/09/01 The Bomb 69 very entertaining, kids, parents, and grandparents will all love it 5 stars
4/02/01 Danny Del Rossi Not since 'The Princess Bride' have I seen a movie with such multi-generational appeal. 5 stars
4/01/01 orpy Excellent, better than Crouching Tiger! 5 stars
4/01/01 Kevin Neece This film was funny 5 stars
3/30/01 B Monday Most entertaining blast of the past several years! Alexa Vega was terrific in her 1st role 5 stars
3/26/01 film fan Fun! 5 stars
3/24/01 JF Great movie with awesome special effects and characters! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  30-Mar-2001 (PG)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  20-Sep-2001 (PG)




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