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Movie Reviews

Spy Kids  

Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Alan Cumming, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Teri Hatcher, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, Robert Patrick, Danny Trejo

Rated: PG (Action / Mild Violence) Running Time: 90 Minutes

Spy Kids
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The kids are Carmen and Juni Cortez, played by Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara, and the spies are their parents, Gregorio and Ingrid, played by Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino. Carmen and Juni, unaware that their mom & dad are spies, are just like any other normal, everyday kids. Normal, that is, until their parents find trouble of the 'evil genius' variety, which throws them head first into a world of intrigue and espionage. After that, it's Juni and Carmen to the rescue, with a great load of fun, sibling rivalry, and high-tech gadgetry along for the ride.

Spy kids is a wonderfully refreshing family film. Aimed primarily at children aged seven to twelve, many adults will also find this movie very entertaining. For parents concerned that Spy Kids may be too frightening for their youngsters, be assured that the levels of scariness and danger are about equal to those found in Willy Wonka or The Wizard of Oz. The levels of comedy and drama are also along lines similar to those films.

In fact, the influence of films like Willy Wonka and The Wizard of Oz is evident throughout Spy Kids. Like those movies, Spy Kids has a story that celebrates the innocence of childhood and family without betraying the intelligence of children or parents. This is an extremely difficult feat to accomplish, as many other recent so-called family films have had the unfortunate opportunity to demonstrate.

This expert's touch is due entirely to writer / producer / director Robert Rodriguez. I am a HUGE fan of this man's work. Rodriguez made a splash with his first film, El Mariachi, which he made on a seven thousand dollar budget, presumably just for the Mexican home video market. When El Mariachi became an international, critically acclaimed sensation, American studios took notice and wooed Rodriguez to make action films. His next feature was the hit semi-sequel to El Mariachi, Desperado, starring Antonio Banderas and Salma Hyack. Desperado cost less than ten million dollars to produce, an extrordinarily small amount for a mid-nineties Hollywood action movie. Other violent action flicks followed, until this, Rodriguez' first full fledged family feature. I suspect that Rodriguez has been working toward this goal all along, for Spy Kids appears to have it's roots way back in one of Rodriguez' early short films, Bedhead, a whimsical fantasy about a young girl who finds that she has super powers, which, of course, she decides to test on her bratty little brother. By the end she realizes that, even though they fight, they still love each other. That spirit of love for one's family is also central to Spy Kids.

Fans of Robert Rodriguez' work will also be pleased with the artistic integrity he's shown in making this movie. As with most of his films, Rodriguez has deftly incorporated elements of his Latino heritage into the story, and even uses many of the same fine Hispanic actors seen in his earlier works. This attention to upbringing fits right in with Spy Kids' theme of family commitment.

Another concept Robert Rodriguez is committed to is making films without spending a lot of money. Spy Kids had a reported budget of thirty-five million dollars, but I'll bet Rodriguez figured out how to come in under that.

So, for kids and parents wishing to see a fun, wholesome movie that's sure to become a classic, and adults interested in the filmmaking talents of Robert Rodriguez, it's 'mission accomplished' for Spy Kids.

Allen J Vestal

A.J.'s Place: Movie and More!

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