Review: “Spy Kids”

“Desperado” never interested me, I really got a kick out ofb “From Dusk til Dawn” (despite a yawn inducing first act), and “The Faculty” proved very much a so-so movie. With “Spy Kids” however Robert Rodriguez has gone in a completely different direction and come up with a family film that proves surprisingly distinctive.

‘Kids’ is aimed directly at the pre-teens, make no mistake about it and while there’s the occasional joke to appease adults its still squarely locked in on the littlies. Nevertheless for that type of movie it proves a fresh and dare I say innovative twist – a kind of Tim Burton meets James Bond meets Willy Wonka hybrid which cost only $30 million to produce but looks like it was done for triple that.

As a writer Rodriguez still needs to hone the ability with some gags falling flat, whilst a few scenes throughout the flick could’ve used a few more re-writes. As a director he’s a master with great casting all round and a warped sensibility that thoroughly lends itself to this type of project. Performances kick across the board with the kids proving very strong players, especially Vega as the daughter.

Banderas and Gugino do the husband-wife pairing well though could’ve used more screen time, Alan Cumming has the perfect outfit and character for the ‘reluctant’ villain but is most certainly underused and easily could’ve had a few more laughs. Teri Hatcher and Tony Shaloub on the other hand are used perfectly in sidekick parts, Robert Patrick continues his recent career resurgence with his solid cameo role, and keep your eye out for a great appearance by a famous ‘doctor’ at the end.

The reactions to this have proven surprisingly varied and will differ a lot depending upon your age and desire/view on having your own kids. As a single 20-something, anything with the word ‘kid’ in the title usually automatically turns me off but I quite enjoyed it. Not great sure, but quite good and certainly from a filmmaking standpoint highly impressive. Families, especially those with quite young kids will love it.