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Miramax/Dimension Films
Official Site
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Producers: Elizabeth Avellan, Robert Rodriguez
Written by: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Robert Patrick, Teri Hatcher, Tony Shalhoub, Alan Cumming, Danny Trejo, Daryl Sabara, Alexa Vega, Cheech Marin

Rating: out of 5

I’m old enough to remember EMIL AND THE DETECTIVES, which came on as one of those Saturday morning children’s movies. Kids, with some missteps, figure it all out and save the world—or at least their small corner of it. Fun and funny, filled with action and just enough but not too much scariness, EMIL... made me feel like a kid could give Bond, James Bond a run for his money.

Robert Rodriguez may be too young to have seen EMIL AND THE DETECTIVES, but in SPY KIDS he shows that he knows all there is to know about kid power, plus how to keep the parents from squirming in their theater seats in boredom.

This light, slight tale of spies Ingrid (Gugino) and Gregorio Cortez (!) (Banderas), who come out of retirement and wimpy parenthood for one last mission, is wish fulfillment for every child on the planet—parents blow it and the kids have to go save their asses.

Though Juni (Sabara) and Carmen (Vega) Cortez are amazed to learn that their humdrum parents have exciting secret lives, espionage must be in the genes, because faster than you can say “Machete’s your uncle” (played by Danny Trejo, a Robert Rodriguez regular and major badass), the kids are fearlessly making deductions and operating spy toys so cool that I plan to collect ’em all.

There’s not a lot of plot here. The few wisps of story are just the excuse to get the kids into action. Some scenes do look rather computer-y, but one the other hand, you get to watch a character turn into a Plympton cartoon. Rodriguez (who, I think, is one of 13) displays a nice feel for sibling interactions. He also has a nice feel for amusing adults. SPY KIDS riffs humorously and often on his previous movie, DESPERADO. And seeing Cheech Marin rip off his mustache was one of the more shocking things I’ve ever seen on screen. The performances are uniformly good, from Alan Cumming’s kids’ TV host Fegan Floop to Tony Shalhoub’s wonderful turn as Minion, a, well, minion. SPY KIDS also looks wonderful, a riot of color and wild sets, with matching music by Danny Elfman.

SPY KIDS is not just a good family movie, it’s a good movie.

—Roxanne Bogucka

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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