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Overall Rating

Awesome: 26.67%
Worth A Look: 3.33%
Just Average: 23.33%
Pretty Crappy: 17.78%

7 reviews, 48 user ratings

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Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Literally unwatchable."
1 stars

Those with long memories will recall that the early 1980's saw a mercifully brief revival of the late, not especially lamented gimmick of 3-D movies. At the time, I was about 10 years old–precisely the age when the notion of strapping on a pair of flimsy cardboard glasses and sitting through 90 minutes of blurry film in the hopes of getting the sensation of a spear or yo-yo being hurtled at you from the screen sounds like the coolest thing in the world. As a result, I made it a point to see as many of the films that were released in the process during this second heyday–titles such as [i]Coming At Ya, Treasure of the Four Crowns, Jaws 3-D, Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn[/i] and [/iAmityville 3-D[/i]. Hell, I not only managed to sneak into a theater showing [i]Friday the 13th Part 3-in 3-D[/i] but I even finagled a pair of glasses from the unsuspecting ticket-taker. (Ah, the joys of poorly staffed and inattentive multiplex employees.) The fact that the titles I have cited are among the worst films ever made–something that I realized even back then–was hardly a deterrent for there are few things in the world more helpless and desperate than a young child in the throes of a cheesy movie gimmick. (I can only thank the movie gods that no one besides John Waters tried to revive Smell-O-Vision in a big way for there is no telling what physical and psychic damage that might have caused.)<

As a result, I can understand why your children may be begging you this weekend to take them to see Robert Rodriguez’s The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D. In a way, it is almost comforting to realize that a gimmick as silly as 3-D can still have a hold over audiences more than a half-century after its introduction. However, you must believe me when I tell you that no matter how much they beg and plead, you must, for their sakes as well as yours, refuse their entreaties at all costs because the film is complete and utter garbage. Even when judged on the level of disposable kiddie entertainment, it is a remarkably sloppy and incoherent jumble of unappealing characters and an uninteresting story that are deployed in the service of a film that is, thanks to its central gimmick, literally unwatchable.

Eschewing the hard-edged world of Sin City for the goofy fantasy of his Spy Kids films, Rodriguez tells the story of Max (Cayden Boyd), a lonely boy who is picked on by bullies, tormented by his teacher (George Lopez) and largely ignored by his fighting parents (dreamer David Arquette and practical Kristin Davis). Max’s only refuge is his imagination, where he has cooked up a pair of pre-pubescent superheroes–Sharkboy (Taylor Lautner), who was raised by sharks since his scientist father disappeared years ago, and Lavagirl (Taylor Dooley), who can harness the power of volcanoes–whom he insists are real and living on the faraway Planet Drool. Needless to say, Max doesn’t really help his waning popularity at school when he is asked to talk about what he did over the summer and recounts his adventures with the duo.

It turns out, of course, that the two are real and show up in Max’s classroom with an emergency–Planet Drool is under attack from the forces of Darkness and only Max can save the planet from destruction. Jetting off in their shark-shaped rocket, the trio land on Planet Drool and find that they must traverse such obstacles as a demented amusement park where everyone is forced to have fun (or else), an army of vicious electrical plugs (complete with extension cords) and the Land of Milk and Cookies. As it turns out, the entire world is hooked into Max’s imagination and since his parents and teachers have been imploring him to get his head out of the clouds, Max has to relearn the power of his dreams if he hopes to save the day, give his friends their happy endings and allow the audience to finally remove their 3D glasses before their heads explode.

Even if you didn’t realize going in that the storyline for this film was supposedly devised by Rodriguez and his young son Racer, you might suspect that The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl was the brainchild of a hyper kid in the throes of the mother of all sugar highs. The story flits about from bit to bit without any sense of narrative pacing–ideas are created and abandoned on a whim in the rush to get to the next big thing. As anyone who has sat next to a little kid as they are making up a fantastic story as they go along, this heedless and desperate excitement can be hugely entertaining but it is not an effect that translates particularly well to film–especially not in this case since all of the key sequences look less like the genuine crackpot workings of the mind of a little kid and more like the various levels of the all-but-inevitable video game. Hell, it doesn’t even bother to try to explain the conceit of the film in any comprehensible manner and the only way I sort of managed to figure it out was to recall the plot of The Never-ending Story (which this film borrows liberally from) and proceed from there. If nothing else, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl may well stand as the definitive cinematic version of that classic Groucho Marx line, “Why this is so simple, a four-year-old child could figure it out. Someone run out and get me a four-year old child–I can’t make heads or tales out of it!”

This is especially disappointing because Rodriguez has demonstrated, via the Spy Kids films, that he does have the skills to make the kinds of films that can appeal simultaneously to children and adults alike. The difference is that in Spy Kids (less so in the increasingly gimmicky follow-ups), he had an intriguing premise, a cheerfully goofy plot and likable kids to go along with his wild special effects and action scenes. By comparison, this effort seems to consist entirely of elements deleted from the Spy Kids films for being too silly that have been strung together at random. While Daryl Sabara and Alexa Vega were charming and funny as pint-sized secret agents, the Taylors Lautner and Dooley are the kind of bland, well-scrubbed kids that are normally found in sitcoms that you never watch while Cayden Boyd, as the other hero, is too whiny and flighty to get behind–when his parents, teachers and bullies tell him to get his head out of the clouds and straighten up, I found myself actually agreeing with them. As for the adult stars, they are all pretty much wasted–the idea of sticking the usually freaky David Arquette in a cartoony universe sounds like a good idea but Rodriguez strangely gives him perhaps the dullest role that he has ever played in his entire career.

Despite all that, the single worst aspect of the film is the thing that is most likely going to appeal to its target audience–the 3-D aspect. After getting roasted for the ugly, relatively unconvincing 3-D process that he used in Spy Kids 3-D, Rodriguez has inexplicably decided to use the same cheapo process here and the results are, with the possible exception of the immortal porn epic Disco Dolls in Hot Pants, the least effective use of the gimmick that I have ever seen. For the roughly 80% of the film that is viewed through the glasses, the red-blue lenses (instead of the more effective–but more expensive and impractical–polarized grey glasses) wash out the visuals to such a degree that sequences that look reasonably bright and colorful in the television commercials appear on screen to be so washed-out that you can only barely notice, for example, that Lavagirl has bright pink hair. It is stunning to think that in the same year, Rodriguez, who serves as his own cinematographer, could bring us both the crisp and gorgeous visuals of Sin City and something so ugly that the mere act of looking at it is a formidable challenge.

Even though this is by far his worst film to date (yes, even worse than [i]The Faculty[/i]), I am confident that Rodriguez will bounce back without too much trouble. Besides, with a guy who bounces from film to film with an energy that makes you wonder when he finds the time for sleep (he has already announced two more films for next year, [i]Sin City 2[/i] and [i]Grind House[/i], his latest team-up with Quentin Tarantino), it was perhaps inevitable that he would one day crap out big time–thankfully, it happened with this instead of [i]Sin City[/i]. As a gesture from a parent to a child, [i]The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl[/i] is a nice thought but, speaking as an impartial moviegoer, I can only hope that the next time one of Rodriguez’s kids approaches him with an idea for a film, he has the good sense to gently but firmly say “No!”–the exact same thing, coincidentally, that any sensible parent should say if their kids beg to see it.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12429&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/10/05 00:00:28
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User Comments

10/22/09 Erika I really liked this movie!!!!It was awesome and i wished they would of made a second movie 5 stars
9/09/08 lil jj i like the movie 5 stars
4/21/08 katelyn i love the songs best but i still love the movie 5 stars
3/23/08 Vanessa I really like the song 5 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK As a film critic, i had to see it. Was Rodriguez High when he thought of this? 1 stars
4/17/07 David Pollastrini Great fx 2 stars
2/14/07 Kristin Stefankiewicz I have an idea for Shark boy and lava girl 2 5 stars
12/30/06 ron steven beautiful movie 5 stars
12/16/06 Danielle santos this movie was so cool i loved ie so much. 5 stars
7/06/06 drydock54321 totally boring 1 stars
5/16/06 Paoal Gonzalez shark boy u are so hot!!!!!!!!!!but I relly did not like the movie 3 stars
4/16/06 Jackie I expected more from the guy who made Spy Kids. Great job Rodreguiz. 2 thumbz way...down! 1 stars
4/08/06 mattew grice i think that sharkboy and lavagirl is the best film i have ever seen 5 stars
2/27/06 someone who hates sharkboy and lavagirl 3d WORST CRAP IVE EVER SEEN THIS MAKES SESAME STREET LOOK AWESOME 1 stars
2/25/06 dupadoit cool 5 stars
2/23/06 kay valentine i want meet with you 5 stars
10/27/05 Jonathon Holmes Rodriguez should be ashamed of himself 1 stars
10/20/05 leanne i thing this movie is the best movie ever 5 stars
10/10/05 Tom Burns Cool scenery, not the best story though. 4 stars
10/09/05 Agent Sands Rodriguez's son is going to hate him when he's older. WHO THE FUCK LET HIM MAKE THIS MOVIE? 1 stars
10/07/05 Teya love it 5 stars
10/06/05 pinhead groovy to the max 5 stars
9/22/05 tatum Robert, every LSD trip does not deserve a film... 1 stars
9/21/05 Fritz The kids couldn't even sit through it. Terrible. 1 stars
9/19/05 Jonathon Holmes Rodriguez should be ashamed of himself 1 stars
9/03/05 homeboy gotta love it 5 stars
9/03/05 Stephanie Throckmorton As with most 3-D films, illusion of things flying out of the screen at you is best part. 3 stars
9/02/05 SharkBoy Best movie Ever !!! any who thourt it sucks is a freak im Sharkboy 5 stars
8/05/05 Zack Note to Robert Rodriguez: YOUR KIDS FILMS SUCK! Make more action flicks! 1 stars
8/03/05 Cin So Deadly 5 stars
7/29/05 dupadoit so cool 5 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins Films like this will kill the genre. 1 stars
7/08/05 jess taylor is SOO hot, oh and the movie rocked 5 stars
7/05/05 Cibeus My daughter thought it was as good as Herbie. Someone on screen barfs every five minutes. 2 stars
6/30/05 gc.hd.hu cool 5 stars
6/30/05 woohoo rad 5 stars
6/28/05 Victoria Sinn Best movie I've ever seen!! 5 stars
6/22/05 nicole i laughed through this whole movie & the glasses made it too dark 4 stars
6/21/05 Linda Tran It was an awsome movie 5 stars
6/20/05 Louise Too dark! My son had to take off the glasses to watch. Bad 3-D; no DVD for us! 2 stars
6/19/05 Pro-Shark Boy Too awesome to say 83 5 stars
6/14/05 Shirin de Silva I thought it was a good flick, although yes, I hate 3d. Saw it three times. 4 stars
6/14/05 matt o'brien this movie this is so fuckin awsome 5 stars
6/14/05 Chris This is The first movie that i have ever seen that gave me a migrane and made me throw up 1 stars
6/13/05 Allan Silliphant Rodriguez blew this by not trying to use the best 3D processing available with colored 3d 3 stars
6/13/05 Agent Sands I've never walked out on a movie B4, but Rodriguez is REALLY testing my patience nowdays!!! 1 stars
6/11/05 Krisan Graves Ouch, the reviews on this one has to hurt! 2 stars
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  10-Jun-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 20-Sep-2005



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