I must admit I was somewhat unsure of what to think when I heard that Robert Rodriguez had made a family film. This was the man who had given us El Mariachi, and the brilliant violence as ballet in its twin Desperado. The blood- and whiskey- soaked director who got together with Tarantino and gave second birth to the exploitation horror comedy in From Dusk til Dawn. How in the name of all things holy was this guy gonna pull of a kids’ movie?Handily, it turns out. Spy Kids is a fun movie that won’t bore your kids, or you either. It seems Rodriguez remembers how much fun kids’ fare can be when there is some darkness to balance the sickly-sweet.
It all starts from the old saw about the kids who imagine their parent’s lives are boring and humdrum then finding out they are actually dangerous and fun. Most of us grow up with the idea that our parents are superheroes of some sort.
Most striking of all of the good parts of what’s offered here is how much fun everyone seems to be having. It really is infectious. The cast plays with spy clichés and kid movie standards, and even cultural stereotypes in a breezy and light- hearted way.
When their super-spy parents are taken prisoner, Carmen and Juni Cortez are determined to go to the rescue. Along the way, they fight the bad guys-- and each other. Aside from the always popular ‘kids saving the world’ plot device (nothing is more empowering than a grown up as helpless as you feel) the majority of the movie is a about accepting yourself and your family. Being at peace with who you are may not be an overly original concept, but fortunately, this message comes with a healthy amount of kid-friendly action.Rodriguez manages to wrap a strong family unity message around a solid chunk of his trademark exuberant violence. Nothing here even remotely approaches the intensity of his other work, but since most kids aren’t really all that into gloriously complicated carnage, it’s fitting that the action owes more to the Keystone Cops than to John Woo.