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Overall Rating

Awesome: 25%
Worth A Look56.25%
Average: 1.79%
Pretty Bad: 7.14%
Total Crap: 9.82%

10 reviews, 52 user ratings

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Spy Kids
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by iF Magazine

"A fun movie that's simply bursting with imagination."
4 stars

There’s nothing wrong with making movies that unabashedly please their intended audiences and director Robert Rodriguez knows that. But sometimes he takes his knocks for it too. Some hated the energetic DESPERADO for simply being a bigger budget remake of his indie hit EL MARIACHI while the creepy THE FACULTY was bunched up with a lot of really bad teen horror films released at the time and was never given its full due.

Still, it’s commendable that Rodriguez knows the film he’s making and sticks to it. That’s the pleasure of perhaps what is one of his best movies to date – SPY KIDS. Though it is designed for the younger set, it never panders nor is it intolerable for adults to sit through. Instead it wrangles in both factions of its audience with cool super agent gadgets and kid-friendly humor.

Think James Bond for the pint-size set and SPY KIDS is the end result. The story sets up the supposition of what if someone like James Bond indeed found the perfect woman and settled down (and what if she too were the perfect spy). Naturally they would have kids, live in a palatial estate and try to lead normal lives … but what if that desire for the old life was still very prevalent?

Both Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez (Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino) are those homebody spies now caring for their young kids Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara). The kids have been told of a grand fable of two spies getting together to form their own family, but they never expected their bland parents to in fact be them.

That is until they are kidnapped by evil children’s show host Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming). Hired by creepy government big wig Mr. Lisp (Robert Patrick), Floop must find the creator of “the third brain” which could give intelligence to a group of children robots Floop has designed which Gregorio may hold the key to. Now it's up to their children to save the day. Unaware of their ancestry, Carmen and Juni soon become adept at being kiddie spies and end up at the elaborate castle of Floop to try and thwart his plans.

Visually speaking, SPY KIDS has a lot going for it. Instead of being a strictly by-the-books spy thriller, it throws in the fantastical element of Floop which definitely has its shades of Willy Wonka to it. In fact this subplot is one of the film’s most ingenious ideas. It has an explanation for parents as to what just might be behind infernal kid’s shows like the TELETUBBIES and that mind control may be a click of the channel away. Cumming is great as Floop – a sort of misunderstood anti-hero whose minions are more dangerous than himself.

Both Banderas and Gugino have great chemistry as the head of the Cortez clan with writer Rodriguez also giving them the opportunity to strut their spy stuff in the film’s lengthy expositional opening detailing their getting together.

In fact, the beginning does become a bit long in the tooth in the exposition category, something that may make some kids a bit antsy. Soon though the likable Vega and Sabara take center-stage. As opposed to most kids designated as leads in films of this sort, there’s an innocent likability to the two. They look and act like real kids – and there’s an ethnicity to them which obviously would be there considering who fathered them (if this were an official Disney film and not Disney subsidiary Dimension, the kids would have been as wonder bread as they come even if Banderas was in the lead).

Keeping the film moving constantly is Rodriguez’s frenetic camerawork and clever use of visual effects which make this film a pretty low budget affair ($36 million) considering what it could have cost in more inefficient hands. From a stellar boat chase to Floop’s henchmen dubbed Thumb Thumbs (because they are literally all thumbs), the movie is busting with imagination.

If any criticism could have been leveraged against Rodriguez’s work in the past it would be in his simplistic plotting. Luckily that’s been remedied here. There are some nice metaphors about family and some cleverly executed subplots (such as the whole Floop scenario) that feel very subversive for a kids film.

There’s also an intriguing use of ethnicity in the film that isn’t shoved in the moviegoers face. In so many movies where the leads have ethnic backgrounds, there’s almost a conscious effort to flaunt it in very bad ways where a filmmaker is trying to make a point, not a movie. Yet Rodriguez uses this to add flair and style to the film. From the production design to the plotting, it’s all used to make the film more unique instead of a propaganda tool (imagine if Spike Lee made a film like this).

The idea of taking kids and making them spies could have been a dreadful idea – high concept at its worst -- and frankly I was dreading the experience of sitting through this. Yet in the end, SPY KIDS surprised me becoming one of the freshest and most pleasing live action children’s films in some time. Take away the kids and Rodriguez’s imaginative gadgets and the twisted plot turns would definitely rival anything in the past three Bond films combined. Then again, has anybody really watched the last three Bond films and actually liked them?-- Anthony C. Ferrante

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originally posted: 03/31/01 13:34:10
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User Comments

1/10/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
4/01/06 Rose Marie the director is crud, the movie is crap!the cast is all wrong and horibble! 1 stars
3/31/06 Anthony Feor A great kid flick 4 stars
3/26/06 Quigley whoa, people, explain the high ratings. it is crap. even antonio banderas didn't save it! 1 stars
9/14/05 Jonathon Holmes great fun 4 stars
8/06/05 Zack What was Robert Rodriguez thinking?!? 1 stars
6/14/05 Agent Sands An overlooked gem. 4 stars
12/10/04 Kristina Williams not a bad kids flick. I can sit through it without howling 4 stars
10/07/04 tatum Big loud fun 4 stars
8/31/04 aussieemmy hey this movie stars Cheech, so any one dissing this movie sucks! 5 stars
8/04/04 Katie This movie is great! The cast is awesome and the story is fun. 5 stars
5/31/04 Nobody Very fakey, somewhat boring, not very funny. 2 stars
12/03/03 Mr. Hat (previously Joe Zappa) It, as well as 2 & 3, are much better than the average kids' movie!! 5 stars
8/30/03 DEVON look, daryl is hot,smart, and turkish, you have a big mouth, you sorry jerk!!! 5 stars
7/26/03 Christian Harding Ideotic humor+some (as in 1 or 2) interesting scenes+weird characters=Spy Kids 3 stars
7/18/03 Chris Entertaing but not without flaws. Still it's style was unseen before. My family enjoyed it. 4 stars
6/20/03 jim movie sucks totall ass, unless ur a 6 year old, be ashamed of urself for liking this movie 1 stars
6/15/03 josh love to see an x-rated virsin 5 stars
6/10/03 Jareth Much better than the last 10 Bonds films 4 stars
2/21/03 scott SHUT UP ALEX THIS MOVIE ROCKS 5 stars
1/27/03 alex why do pussy like andrew patrick watch fuckin kid movies like spy kids, man up u littlegil 1 stars
12/17/02 Laura *Mrs. Floop* This movie is my favourite movie of all time. It is fantasticly made and Floop is gorgeous! 5 stars
8/25/02 Turkish blew total ass poo, jus rent the goonies instead, and andrew patricks a pussy 1 stars
8/17/02 Andrew Patrick Spy Kids Is Probably The Best Spy Movie Ever 5 stars
8/17/02 AJ Go in openminded and knowing its a kid's movie.. Overall it rocks 5 stars
8/16/02 scott great but spy kids 2 is better 4 stars
8/11/02 J I use to love it but after that lame "re-release" and better sequel I'm lowering my rating. 4 stars
7/28/02 spencer stupid shit that would never happen no plot 1 stars
6/11/02 qtpie Antonia Banderas was hot in those working glasses 5 stars
3/11/02 Emilia The bad guy is the weirdest..fits the whole movie 4 stars
1/20/02 Andrew Carden Uncomfortable and Uneven Kiddie Flick. 2 stars
12/26/01 Phil M. Afficianado Very cool. An eyefull of color and activity and imagination. Good spirited, too. Fun. 5 stars
10/16/01 Mr. Hat Some of the stuff is so cool, it makes me jealous because I don't have it. 5 stars
9/25/01 INCUBATOR Not funny, no nothing.....real piece of crap 1 stars
8/10/01 Jessel GREAT flick for the kids who will love it. Banderas is excellent, disliked only by skanks 4 stars
7/17/01 cheryl hated spy kids HATED antonio banderas - a greasy wetback with a lisp. 1 stars
6/22/01 sumair adfd 4 stars
5/20/01 Billy Blah at best 1 stars
5/10/01 Annie Tangalin It's alot funnier than any comedy show I've seen!!! 5 stars
4/21/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Funnier than 8-out-of-10 gross-out comedies you'll see this year...I'm serious... 4 stars
4/20/01 Stephen Booth Appeals on many levels, not to saccerine but sweet enough not to scare the kids. 4 stars
4/17/01 gloria fantastic movie for adults and kids. 5 stars
4/17/01 JustJeff I liked "Play It to the Bone" better - too bad Antonio did whup on the brats in this flick. 1 stars
4/16/01 Rampage perfect for the entire family, Banderas was great 5 stars
4/09/01 The Bomb 69 very entertaining, kids, parents, and grandparents will all love it 5 stars
4/02/01 Danny Del Rossi Not since 'The Princess Bride' have I seen a movie with such multi-generational appeal. 5 stars
4/02/01 orpy Excellent, better than Crouching Tiger! 5 stars
4/01/01 Kevin Neece This film was funny 5 stars
3/31/01 B Monday Most entertaining blast of the past several years! Alexa Vega was terrific in her 1st role 5 stars
3/27/01 film fan Fun! 5 stars
3/25/01 JF Great movie with awesome special effects and characters! 5 stars
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  30-Mar-2001 (PG)


  20-Sep-2001 (PG)

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