Spy Kids

SPY KIDS is an entirely cute, sometimes self-aware, and, alas, all 
too draggy kid's pic that blends the higher-tech James Bond movies 
as and Julia Roberts lookalike Carla Gugino play retired, married-
with-children secret agents, called back for a bonus mission and 
subsequently kidnapped by an inventive children's television host 
turned megalomaniacal weapons designer (Alan Cumming).  (With the 
help of Tony Shaloub's Dr. Evil-dressed, Coke-bottle bespectacled 
assistant, he's building an army of robotic surveillance devices 
that resemble little children.  The product line?  "Spy Kids"...)  
Off schelp Mom and Dad, in comes Cheech Marin's "uncle," and faster 
than you can say "wasn't he in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN?" (he was), the 
the two children-- plucky pre-teen daughter (Alexa Vega) and bum-
bling little brother (Daryl Sabara) are heading headlong into ad-
venture, first to a safe house and then to Cumming's character's 
island lair.  (To rescue mon mere and pere, but of course.)  And 
with way-cool gadgetry galore, some supplied by the film's version 
of "Q" (craggily-and-even-more-so-than-Tommy-Lee-Jones character 
actor Danny Trejo, who *also* appeared in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN).  

What results-- sorry, what *ensues*-- is an infectious blend of ac-
tion sequences, child actors who *act* like actual children, some 
sly self-references (as much about merchandising as spy-movie con-
ventions), and a fair amount of exceptionally colorful whimsy.  (I 
daresay the film needs ten to twenty-percent *more* of those fairy 
tale-like flourishes to offset the darker, more-drab angles.)  And 
the whole thing's innocuous as Hell, and probably the film's most 
pleasant surprise.  (Compared to, say, THE GRINCH, it's as unforced 
an amusement as Ron Howard's film wasn't.  Isn't.  Wasn't.  What-
ever.)  The director (and writer) is Robert Rodriguez (DESPERADO, 
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN), which is good news for his dynamic directing 
style, but not so good for the filmmaker's renowned penny-pinching.  
This is a lower-budget movie and the seams show.  Often.  Worse, 
the narrative flow is equally as clunky and thus turns this ninety-
minute trifle into a *far* longer-feeling affair.  (Notice, for ex-
ample, the flashback-containing opening sequence.  Shouldn't the 
tale-teller's identity have been concealed until *after* the story 
was finished, for maximum effect?)  Don't imagine the wee ones will 
notice such stuff, tho.  And that's quite a bit of the battle right 
there...  With Daryl Sabara, Teri Hatcher, and Robert Patrick, who 
did *not* appear in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, but *did* star in FROM 
Grade: B-

Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: I Spy With My Eye

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros