Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Ted S. McGregor, Jr.


What was James Bond like when he was 12? That's the premise of writer-director Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids series. The brother-and-sister team of Carmen and Juni Cortez charmed audiences in the low-budget original, a surprising hit in that it came from a director usually associated with bloodbaths (Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn). Seeing the Hollywood Grail before him -- the movie franchise -- Rodriguez went for a sequel.


Using filmmaking tricks akin to his kids' gadgets to keep the budget low again (you'll see shades of Ray Harryhausen), Rodriguez manages to keep the disbelief moderately suspended. But let's be clear; some of these special effects are laughably bad.


It's hard to say who he made this film for: 12-year-olds or their parents. Kids have no idea who Ricardo Montalban is, and his appearances as Carmen and Juni's grandpa don't have much impact unless you're old enough to remember Fantasy Island. His casting seems designed to amuse adults -- as it is also with Steve Buscemi's mad scientist, Bill Paxton's theme park owner and Cheech Marin's guy who shows up occasionally for no good reason. But it doesn't get much beyond amusing, as everyone (except Paxton) seems to be on autopilot. Spy Parents Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino seem particularly lost. And you'd think the great Buscemi could really run with a mad scientist role, but he plays it straight.


Rodriguez's story is by the numbers, too, with the kids on the outs with the agency, needing to uncover some double-crossing among their higher-ups. So they journey to an island filled with genetic experiments gone wrong, which makes for some of the film's best moments. I'm sure preteens love this stuff, but it can't compete with what's just around the corner in the realm of PG-13 films like Spiderman and Attack of the Clones. Still, it has a certain campy charm, and it's fun to watch how Rodriguez gets the most bang for his buck: Austin stands in for Washington, D.C., and Big Bend National Park becomes an island off the coast of Africa. He even devotes a special feature on the DVD to discussing his penny-pinching ways.


Big-name actors in forgettable parts, gadgets that get breathless introductions never to be seen again and cheesy special effects don't seem to be slowing this train down, as Spy Kids 2 did good business. The biggest concern Rodriguez has is that his kids are growing up. After maybe one more, he'll have to replace them and hope nobody notices (they probably won't) or start a new franchise with a less catchy title: Spy Young Adults.





Publication date: 03/20/03

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Rich Man, Poor Men
  • Rich Man, Poor Men

    Can the wealthiest U.S. president ever help the poorest U.S. citizens?
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • La Résistance
  • La Résistance

    Michael Moore, Congressional Democrats and local progressives: How they are resisting Donald Trump's agenda
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Must-See TV?
  • Must-See TV?

    Alternatives to the inauguration (and how to make watching more fun if you have to)
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Single Mingle

Single Mingle @ Bozzi Collection Gallery

Fri., Jan. 20, 6-8:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ted S. McGregor Jr.

  • The Watch List
  • The Watch List

    You'll learn a lot by watching some key people who could make or break Trump's presidency
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Fake-News Nightmare
  • Fake-News Nightmare

    The social media dream of the 2000s is fading, but we can reset the system by sticking up for the truth
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • BOOKS
  • BOOKS

    From Twin Peaks to the darkest reaches of our galaxy, there's a new book for everyone on your list
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Thanks, Obama

    The legacy of the 44th President goes far beyond the election of the 45th
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

scandal


scandals


Comment


Briefs


green zone


Readers also liked…

  • An Eye for Every Storm
  • An Eye for Every Storm

    After losing out to Idaho Falls, Coeur d'Alene gets its crisis center; now the city has to prove it works
    • Feb 4, 2016
  • Care in Crisis
  • Care in Crisis

    Why did seven psych ward doctors quit their jobs at Sacred Heart?
    • Jun 17, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation