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Spy Kids: All the Time in the World
2/5
dir-scr Robert Rodriguez
prd Elizabeth Avellan, Robert Rodriguez
with Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven, Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook, Joel McHale, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Ricky Gervais, Jett Good, Chuck Cureau, Albert Im, Jonathan Breck
release US/UK 19.Aug.11
11/US Dimension 1h29
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World
The next generation: Blanchard and Cook

alba piven mchale
SPY KIDS (2001)
SPY KIDS 2 (2002)
SPY KIDS 3D: GAME OVER (2003)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World Rodriguez attempts to reboot his children's adventure series with this raucously colourful fourth film, which uses the 4D gimmick of Aroma-scope. But it feels more like a cheap kids' TV series than an actual movie.

Rebecca and Cecil (Blanchard and Cook) are young teens living with their TV-host dad Wilbur (McHale) and his sexy new wife Marissa (Alba). No one knows that Marissa is actually a super-spy who has retired to give birth to a daughter. But now the world is being threatened by the sinister Timekeeper, and her boss (Piven) asks her to come back to work. When Rebecca and Cecil end up in the middle of things, they discover that they're rather adept at being spy kids, mentored by now-grown siblings Carmen and Juni (Vega and Sabara).

The film is a riot of gadgetry, including the discovery that the family dog Argonaut is secretly the kids' robotic protector (voiced by Gervais, playing himself). This feeds into the scatological tone of the humour, which focuses on puke, farts, dirty diapers as weapons and "butt bombs". Of course, you may worry that Aroma-scope will reflect this, but you'd be wrong since each scent has pretty much the same sugary-flowery smell. (Go back three decades to John Waters' 1981 Polyester in Odorama for a wittier use of the same gimmick.)

But that wouldn't be a problem if the film hung together. Rodriguez uses a Looney Tunes style in which people look and sound stretched and the sets like iPad sketches digitally pasted in as backgrounds. While the movie is a bundle of energy, with plenty of action to keep young children interested and 3D effects that constantly fly in our faces, it's just not imaginative enough to be memorable.

All of this is frustrating because we know Rodriguez can be a breathtakingly inventive filmmaker. But as the story continues, tension dissipates while corny messages spring from the central premise of a villain who's stealing time: we need to always be moving forward, not back. And it's not about how much time you have, it's about how you use it. In this sense, it's rather impressive that Rodriguez magically makes 89 minutes feel like three hours.

cert pg themes, violence 16.Aug.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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