Spy Kids Review

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Carmen and Juni think they have the squarest parents around. Little do they know, they used to be two of the best spies in the biz. When their olds get kidnapped by TV kids’ show host Floop, it’s time for the siblings to save the day.


Robert Rodriguez has already proved himself to be a fast-paced, tightly kinetic filmmaker with a knack for brevity. El Mariachi (1992) allegedly cost only $7,000 to make, and few of his films teeter past the 90-minute mark. Yet surprisingly — for a filmmaker who could give John Woo a serious run for his money in the cinematic gun play stakes — Rodriguez has unexpectedly found his true calling in making a kids’ film.

Spy Kids is unashamedly brilliant, a fast and furious fusion of hip references, cute action, dynamic visuals and sheer delight. Rodriguez — here also acting as editor — opens strongly with a sustained bedtime story that sees mother Ingrid recount her fateful meeting with husband-to-be Gregorio and their subsequent wedding, hounded by choppers and Uzis. If God really is in the details, then Rodriguez seems to have a hotline to the deity, right down to the heart-shaped parachutes that conclude this bravura sequence.

Antonio Banderas — Rodriguez’s screen alter-ego — is note perfect as the suaver-than-suave special agent, ably accompanied by Carla Gugino as his wife/fellow spy. Best of all, the kids — Vega and Sabara — are likeable and more than adequate, eschewing your typical Hollywood treacle.

Indeed, the film is so set on avoiding the sentimental traps that spoil so many kids’ flicks that it even delivers its final moral directly to camera, with all the family posing as if for a snapshot, in a moment that is full of genuine wit as well as invention.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, an old Rodriguez buddy — we’re not saying who! — shows up for the last few minutes in a hilarious cameo.

With Spy Kids, Rodriguez has more than delivered on the promise he has consistently shown as a filmmaker, and, in doing so, he’s created the best live-action kids’ film in years. The summer blockbuster season starts early this year — and it starts with Sp