Spy Kids
The family that spies together. The Cortezes take on the baddies (clockwise: Gugino, Banderas, Vega, Sabara).
dir-scr Robert Rodriguez
with Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alan Cumming, Tony Shalhoub, Robert Patrick, Teri Hatcher, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, George Clooney
release US 30.Mar.01; UK 13.Apr.01
3.5 out of 5 stars

See also: SPY KIDS 2 (2002), SPY KIDS 3D (2003), SPY KIDS 4D (2011)
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

real spies, only smaller After films like Desperado and From Dusk Til Dawn, you wouldn't exactly expect Rodriguez to turn his skills to a kids' movie, but that he has! And it's easily one of the most kinetic, hilarious family thrill-rides in ages.

Gregorio and Ingrid (Banderas and Gugino) have traded in their identities as top spies to get married and raise their kids, Carmen and Juni (Vega and Sabara). Then wacky TV show host Fegan Floop (Cumming) and his sidekick Minion (Shalhoub) start kidnapping secret agents in an effort to create an army to take over the world. Soon Gregorio and Ingrid go missing, and Carmen and Juni discover their true heritage and the fact that they're the only ones who can save their parents ... and probably the world.

Rodriguez keeps the pace so brisk that we hardly ever draw a breath between action sequences, each of which is livened up by clever directoral touches, brightly garish design, cheeky computer effects and unexpected jolts of gonzo humour. Kids in the audience will be delighted with this mayhem, and there are plenty of joys for the parents as well, not only in the subversive humour but also in the unusual setting (South America?) and the inventive action. As a result, we can forgive Rodriguez for getting surprisingly silly and syrupy at the end (drilling in the pro-family message with even less subtlety than the over-the-top kiddie TV spoofage).

It's great to see Banderas in a comic role like this--he's terrific, as are Gugino, Vega and Sabara. As usual, Shalhoub is far better than his cartoon role requires, Patrick lends a classy aura of gravitas, and both Marin and Trejo add nice touches to their characters. Cumming is OK in a role he's played several times before, while Hatcher is completely out of control trying to be goofy and failing miserably. But never mind, the film is such fun that I'm already looking forward to the sequel. There will be one, won't there?
themes, some violence, innuendo cert PG 25.Mar.01

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&cpoy; 2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall