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Young Carmen and Juni Cortez do not know
That their parents are settled-down spies.
While Juni is friendless, his sister skips school,
And both tell their parents some lies.
When spies from the OSS start to go missing,
Both Ingrid and Greg are called in.
Reluctantly, they leave their children behind
With Felix, their uncle and kin.
The parents are soon apprehended by Floop,
The host of a weird children’s show.
This Floop has turned agents he’s caught into freaks
And proves a formidable foe.
He sends out an army of thumb-composed thugs
To seek out the rumored Third Brain,
Which he needs for the army of mechanized kids
He’s built so that evil can reign.
While Carmen and Juni are minding their business,
Their house is attacked by Thumb-Thumbs.
So their Uncle Felix, who isn’t their uncle,
Fights off the robots but succumbs.
The children escape to a safe house for spies,
And try to absorb what they’ve learned,
But soon their un-safe house is changed to a trap
By a spy girl that must have been turned.
They flee with the Brain to a city nearby
And argue of what they should do.
But soon the Brain’s taken by their doppelgangers
Who fly away into the blue.
The children seek out their real uncle Machete
Who builds lots of gadgets for spies.
He hates his own brother but shows them a plane
That is both fast and just the right size.
They fly to Floop’s castle, where Floop has been having
Some quite bothersome second thoughts.
His minion named Minion then locks Floop away
And begins to start calling the shots.
Both Carmen and Juni free Ingrid and Greg,
And Juni brings Floop to their side.
They fight off the Spy Kids till Floop can reprogram
The robots with fun as their guide.
At last, the Cortezes are honest and true,
And even Machete forgives.
A family of spies is a dangerous thing,
As long as togetherness lives.

Spy Kids was a hit when it first came out in 2001 with a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and, though the series devolved into the terrible Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, it started off with an entertaining bang. The action is often exaggerated to the point of being campy, and Carmen and Juni’s realistic bickering gets old after a while, but the film is a wonderful endorsement of being honest as a family, much like the admittedly better The Incredibles a few years later.

Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara, who have definitely grown since their roles here, are very convincing as two quarreling siblings who learn their parents are superspies. Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino are also wonderful, if rather ineffective for the most part, as said parents, and I must say both look strikingly attractive. Other roles are filled by Alan Cumming as Floop, Robert Patrick (the T-1000 in Terminator 2) as Mr. Lisp, and Tony Shalhoub (who was just in yesterday’s Galaxy Quest) as Mr. Minion. Plus, there’s a great cameo and sight gag at the very end. Danny Trejo also appears as Machete Cortez, originating the role he would reprise in Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, Machete, and Machete Kills, all films that are decidedly not kid-friendly.

Floop is sadly a weakness, in my view. While he as a character is fine, his bizarre TV show and mutated extras are things I would expect to see from Tim Burton (not one of my favorite directors), and the fitting score from Danny Elfman strengthens that comparison. My VC and I just don’t care for overly weird films, and a few scenes push into that territory. Also, while the special effects are good, in several parts, like the jet pack scene, it is obvious that the actors are in front of a green screen.

Still, Spy Kids is a Latin-flavored family film that has humor, action, cool gadgets, and all-around fun. Whether you see it with kids of your own or not, it’s an adventure worth taking.

Best line: (a boy in the park, after seeing the robot kids take off with rockets in their feet) “¡Yo quiero los zapatos como esos!” (translated: “I want shoes like that!”)

VC’s best line: (Carmen, at the very end) “Spy work, that’s easy. Keeping a family together, that’s difficult. And that’s the mission worth fighting for.”

Artistry: 4
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 7
Visual Effects: 6
Originality: 7
Watchability: 7
Other (some weirdness): -2
TOTAL: 36 out of 60

Next: #258 – The Great Mouse Detective

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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