Released 03/30/2001 Rated: PG
“My parents can’t be spies! They’re not cool enough!”
I’m not gonna lie, I kept putting off rewatching this movie because I was so afraid it was going to be much cheesier than I remembered. I loved this movie as a kid, so it was definitely a trip down memory lane. There are plenty of green screen issues, BUT I still say this is one of the better kid’s movies out there. There are definitely others with both worse effects and child acting, but Spy Kids is on the top of my list for creativity and story.
First of all, you have to give credit to Robert Rodriguez, the guy behind such films as Sin City, Desperado, and Machete, for being able to make a decent children’s movie. He did also give us The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D, but I’m willing to overlook that. You really wouldn’t expect a director most known for making gritty, shoot-em-up films to even consider something like this, but he made a franchise out of it, and has directed all four Spy Kids films. (I probably won’t review the others; I just don’t think I wanna put myself through that. The second one was definitely cheesier than I remember.)
Spy Kids is a fantastical world full of crazy elements, and even crazier gadgets. The bad guy’s lair is essentially a fun house. There are traps where the floor falls away like puzzle pieces, and either it’s real, or it’s not. Secret agents have been turned into grotesquely morphed creatures and are forced to appear on Floop’s kid’s show, which also has toys made after them. And Floop has a chair that is a giant hand that seems almost impossible to sit in. Some of the gadgets look like toys, yet do incredible things. “You don’t even know what those things are.” / “…I know they’re heavy.” The Guppy submarine, and the plane, all look incredibly fake, but that’s okay; it’s bizarre and out there, but it all fits.
I feel as though Spy Kids does a good job of realistically portraying the sibling relationship between Carmen and Juni. Siblings squabble and pick on each other when they’re growing up. It’s natural for them to get on each other’s nerves, but when it comes down to it, they’ve always got each other’s backs. Carmen and Juni are great, and if there’s one thing I believe from this movie, it’s their relationship.
This movie has a charm about it. It’s not over the top, and it’s not too adult; it’s the perfect blend. Just look at the parents’ back story. First of all, it’s told to us in the form of a bedtime story. They give us a lot of information in a small package that’s easy to grasp to bring this world into context. Second, they kept it light-hearted. It’s not overtly funny or serious; it’s just a simple story. And it’s gorgeously shot. Every frame of that sequence is perfect, and still tells the story even without the voice over. That is a skill that’s hard to find these days.
If you haven’t seen it in a while, find it.