From the director of such violent shoot-em-ups like Desperado and From Dusk Til Dawn comes... a kid's movie? That's right, Robert Rodriguez, one of the exceptional action directors, has made Spy Kids, a movie that puts a couple of kids into the position they have always wanted... spies.
The story goes like this: Two parents (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) who used to be spies go on a new assignment, only to be captured (quite easily, too) by a kids' TV show mogul who is also building an army of child robots that are nearly invincible. The only people that can save them, for some reason, is their children, who quickly are thrust into several life-or-death situations as they race along to save their parents and save the world.
The best thing about Spy Kids is that, for the most part, it is not treated as a kid's movie. That is not to say that there are parts that should not be viewed by children - pretty much every second of the film fits its PG rating - but Rodriguez puts the two spy kids into non-bloody action scenes and treats them as if they were full blown adults doing the same thing. The result is a lot of somewhat intense action scenes that retain their seriousness yet also has a cartoonish look to tell the audience that yes, indeed Spy Kids is a kid's movie. The kids get to do everything that most children dream of - punch bad guys, have motorboat chases, go in submarines, fly airplanes, and fly using jetpacks · all the while equally keeping the adults entertained.
Spy Kids is set in a very interesting world. Rodriguez has chosen to combine three elements into one country - the Latino element, the English element, and the surreal element. So, the movie takes place in a country that is a blend of all of these, which is great because first, the country is actually somewhat representative of what the United States already is, and second, there are some very creative things that exist in the surreal part (like the funny thumb-thumb robots, as well as the mutated spies).
In a way, I think parents will find Spy Kids more entertaining than their children. The children will love the action and strange characters, but the parents will get a few more of the jokes and appreciate some of the movie's ideas, like having the bad guy also be the host of a children's show. The show, although not really related in content, has the same look and feel of the shows 'cherished' by parents, like Barney or, maybe even closer, Teletubbies.
Spy Kids does make a few mistakes at the end. It looses its seriousness a little bit and everything plays out just a little too easily, like most children's movies do. It is sort of a let down after a rather exciting movie. Basically, family values come into play and the ending is just chopped up a little bit by those scenes.
Otherwise, I do not see any reason why parents should not take their children to this movie. They will love it, their kids will love it, and the movie might even teach the children a thing or two; if you do not want your kids being influenced by Pokemon, Spy Kids might be a better alternative.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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