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Spy Kids

(2001)
Warning: everyone else likes this film a lot more than I do I finally got to see Robert Rodriguezs blockbuster brainchild Spy Kids the other night; a friend amiably bushwacked me into it, and worse things have been done to me in the name of culture, I suppose. I have never really gotten into anything Rodriguez has done, personally, but his movies make money and so must have an audience somewhere. To be fair I had heard only positive things about Spy Kids, so its not like I was an unwilling participant. Most of you have seen it or have heard the premise; two parents (Anotonio Banderas and the gorgeous Carla Gugino) are in fact secret agents who met, fell in love, got married, and hid their past from their kids, Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara). One day when the folks go missing, however, the kids are forced to step up into their shoes and solve the riddle of who kidnapped their parents and why. I can see why the movie was a hit. Though I didnt find the kids endearing in the same way I did the trio in Harry Potter, these two only rarely veer into obnoxious precociousness (oddly, the older Vega does so more often than the younger, Hobbit-like Sabara). A lot of the humor is in the kids having to act like adults, which wears, but given that premise the movie is very much aimed at the kiddies. The bay guy is named Floop (the underrated Alan Cumming) and has a zany army of misfit genetic mutations and robots that are all thumbs (literally; every limb is a giant thumb). Tony Shalhoub ends up with a lot of the evil exposition in his role as the appropriately titled Minion; and you can always count on Tony Shalhoub. The main problem that I had with Spy Kids, and rather than considering it a flaw I feel this is what they aimed for, is that it was too childish for me. I know its a kids escapist film and Im not the audience, but I never feel too old or left out when I watch a Pixar film, and I certainly did here. Its all zany, crazy, and whacky, which obviously works for the kids (they made a second one, didnt they?), but after about an hour I got a little tired of flying backpacks and electronic gum and all of that. I guess Im just an old fart at heart. There are some funny moments in Spy Kids, even if you are past puberty, and I did laugh several times. But I would have laughed a whole lot more were I eleven or so. Spy Kids isnt a movie to be avoided -- its harmless fun -- but its probably best watched with those whom it was aimed at. September 24, 2002