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Spy Kids (2001) – Movie Review

Spy Kids movie poster

Written & Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alan Cumming

My Advice: Matinee.

Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez (Banderas and Gugino) are the world’s greatest spies. No, really. They just look like entrenched suburbanites, minivan and all. They have two very intelligent, energetic kids (Vega and Sabara). Everything’s just peachy. But when the past comes calling, and they get pulled out of retirement, they get more than they bargained for. Captured–because they’re just a little rusty–that leaves “Uncle Felix” (Cheech Marin) to get the children to safety. Alone and outgunned, the children decide that they’re going to have to claim their spy heritage–and get their parents back themselves.

The problem with movies for kids these days is that there’s very little in them for the adults that inevitably must chaperone the tykes. Hollywood, for the most part–there are exceptions, has forgotten how to give things levels. The best example, of course, are the Looney Tunes. You watch them when you’re a munchkin, and you love them. You come back to them as an adult and go: “Whoa–I had no idea–!” Such is the fun of Spy Kids, not to mention the mind-blowing concept of the man who brought us From Dusk Till Dawn doing a family movie. And doing a family movie that actually works as outlined above. Who knew?

[ad#longpost]First of all, I have no idea where they found these kids, but they’re great. Everything from mocking each other in the back of the minivan to their slo-mo march from the clothing store where they’ve just gotten their new digs–it’s all done with style that belies their size and age. Also of note is Cumming, whose Wonka-genius-on-acid Floop is perfect. In fact, if they ever do find themselves actually going through with a Wonka remake, Cumming’s our man. Tony Shaloub, playing a minion to Floop named…Minion. He’s brilliant as always. Finally, we’d like to make mention of the fact that Danny Trejo, after spending aeons as #1 Thug, now has lines. Incredible! Well, he has to do something, since Vinnie Jones appears to be stealing his schtick.

Rodriguez does a great job, not only with the direction but just with the insanity that he creates–every kid’s dream. We’re talking acid crayons and jetpack Buddies and goldfish submarines. I’m personally surprised that we haven’t seen a slew of comic books and novels based on this property, because it would translate so well. The box office of the film attests to that. Personally, I can’t wait for the sequel. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen.

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