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Spy Kids
BLU-RAY disk
08.31.2011 By: J.A. Hamilton
Spy Kids order download
Director:
Robert Rodriguez

Actors:
Antonio Banderas
Carla Gugino
Alan Cumming

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A couple of normal kids with boring parents soon realize that nothing about their lives is normal at all. In fact, their parents are retired spies who've just gone missing in action and it's now up to them to step up into their parents shoes as spies themselves in hopes of saving their parents and the world.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I'm not against kids movies, but I have to say there have been some dramatic changes in how they're put together over the past decade. I grew up on stuff like THE NEVERENDING STORY, LABYRINTH, GOONIES, THE MONSTER SQUAD and nothing I've seen in a long while has come even remotely close to playing in the same ballpark. That said, I guess I'm thankful that SPY KIDS isn't full of animals running amuck (talking or otherwise), but don't worry it still managed to awe me on a ridiculous level in other areas.

I remember being thrown for a loop with this first came out because Robert Rodriguez was making a name for himself in my books with FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, DESPERADO and THE FACULTY. So you can imagine my surprise when I hear he's doing a kids movie. However, dude's got kids and wanted to do right by em, I can dig that, but while I'm being honest, this isn't a movie for anyone but kids. There are some cool gadgets that these rascals come across in their adventure, but the oddities are the ones that stuck out for me. I mean really, they're in a submarine pod on the way to a safe house and it's got a microwave that can materialize McDonald's happy meals out of small pills? What's worse is that the toilet actually talks to you and lets you know it's "flushing your poop." Sigh. It's small things like these that will ruin what little headway this flick makes with anyone over the age of ten. Under ten? Game on bitches!

Poor Antonio Banderas, for the life of me I can't understand where he went wrong. DESPERADO alone proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that this guy can hold his own in the action ring. Then there was ASSASSINS (still my one of my favourite roles of his), THE MASK OF ZORRO (the second one, not so much), THE 13TH WARRIOR and his little stint in FOUR ROOMS. Sure, people loathed BALLISTIC: ECKS VS SEVER, but nobody wins em all, so that can't be the one reason he stepped down from action. Either way, I miss that Banderas and though his charisma is still fun to watch, it stung a bit to see him reduced to this. Carla Gugino's career however, went in the opposite direction and is still shining today. That, and she's still smoking hot! The one cool aspect of this film comes in the form of Danny Trejo whose known as "Machete". Okay, so that may not have been as cool then as it is now, but it's still pretty damn awesome knowing where that character goes down the road.

SPY KIDS fits right in with the odd kids films (and TV shows) of today. Now I mention TV shows simply because of this flick's asinine villain who's also the host of a strange kids show (a twisted vision of what Barney and The Teletubbies might look like if they were prisoners on THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU). A dude with a army of thumb-thumbs--which look like people only their heads, legs and arms are gigantic thumbs--I suppose that could be kinda scary. Rodriguez does a good job with presentation, visuals and pace though, so much so that this is a watchable hour and a half but there's no way in hell I'd wanna sit through three sequels.
THE EXTRAS
Growing Up SPY Kids: This two part featurette gives us the lowdown on how they put this flick as well as the other sequels together as we have some of the original interviews with cast and crew along with some new ones to promote the new SPY KIDS 4.

Robert Rodriguez Ten Minute Film School: This is another Robert Rodriguez original like the ones found on some of his other kid flick adventures. This time we're learning about special effects rather than baking cookies.

Robert Rodriguez Ten Minute Cooking School: Oops, not so fast, here's another one only this time we're in the kitchen again, cooking up some cool treats and no, they're not making McDonald's happy meals. Thank God.

Stunt Piece: This one features the kids when their kids doing what stunts they could manage and then the rest are performed by kids from professional stunt families. Now being one of those kids would certainly make show and tell ten times more fun at school.

Special Effects Piece: This one takes a closer look at Floop's evil empire of monsters like the thumb-thumbs. Again, think evil versions of Barney and all the rest of those usually fun, furry friends. Scary.

Previews: There's a theatrical trailer, a slew of other previews as well as a Digital Copy of the film.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I've seen far worse kids flicks from far worse directors, so in that sense, SPY KIDS earns some points. Thankfully it has some great casting to fall back on (including a cool cameo near the end) and some interesting ideas to play around with. I'm still unsure as to how they roped Sly into being the villain in the third one, or why Jeremy Piven is coming off his ENTOURAGE high to being the villain in part four.
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