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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