Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Running Time: 1:26
Rated PG for action sequences and brief language.

Packed with a lot of humor and excitement, Spy Kids is fun for the whole family. While geared towards kids, the movie has enough adult humor and certainly enough fun for people of all ages to enjoy.

Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) are international spies. One day while they are on their first mission in 9 years they are kidnapped, and it's up to their kids Carmen and Juni (Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara) to save their parents from the evil Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming). It seems Floop is amassing an army of robotic children to take over the world. His henchmen include strange looking creatures that are actually spies transfigured into characters for his TV show, and thumbs. That's right, robots that have thumbs for arms, legs and heads.

The plot is very straightforward. Kids rescue parents, save the world from evil. Happens everyday. Director Robert Rodriguez, known more for his amazing low budget shoot-em-ups like El Mariachi, Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn, manages to make a very entertaining, action packed film, without all the violence and bloodshed. He shows flashes of past films with the slow-motion shots of the kids after they've changed in the clothing store and saddle up for the game. The music definitely has old movie feel, with the Mexican guitars playing in the background.

The real draws of the film are the winning child actors Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara. You can't help but like these two. They truly act like brother and sister. Even at times where both their lives are in danger, they still take the time to call each other names. Both do an amazing job at two very difficult roles. Not many kids can handle comedic dialogue and hard action stunts and still not sound like, well, sound like kids. Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino are good as the parents, knowing that they don't need to eat up the screen. They take a step back and allow the kids to rule the movie. Alan Cumming as the evil Floop is strange to say the least. And his equally (and even more evil) sidekick Mr. Minion (Tony Shaloub) is always a treat.

The best part of the movie experience, is seeing the kids do things that everyone wishes they could. Who didn't wish that their parents were cool, international spies? What kid doesn't dream of being able to fly? Who doesn't want to try and save the world from evil thumbs? This is a child's fantasy brought to life, but in a way that isn't like watching a Saturday morning cartoon. The script isn't dumbed down for kids, it treats them like regular people and makes jokes for everyone. The crowd I was with (Sunday afternoon matinee, lots of kids) loved it and gave it a big round of applause at the end.

Overall Spy Kids is just a lot of fun. Something I would definitely recommend seeing. In fact, I may see it again because I enjoyed it so much. I can't wait for the sequel.

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reviewed 04/01/01

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