Spy Kids (review)

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Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez (Antonio Banderas: The 13th Warrior, and Carla Gugino: Snake Eyes) were top international spies on opposite sides, back in “dark and confusing times” — apparently, the early 90s, when cell phones were bricks, Mosaic was the browser of choice, and Spain and the U.S. were at war and no one knew it. But I kid Family Entertainment. Spy Kids is, in its exaggerated over-the-topness, perfectly silly escapist fun for kiddies that won’t bore their parents too much. Gregorio and Ingrid, retired from espionage and now married with kids — the most dangerous mission of all — are kidnapped by a bad guy, Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming: Company Man), with an indistinct plan to take over the world or something. And it’s up to grade-schoolers Carmen and Juni Cortez (Alexa Vega: Twister, and Daryl Sabara) to get Mom and Dad home safe and save the planet. Perhaps the first action movie specifically and appropriately aimed at kids (the action is slapsticky rather than realistically violent), this is a James Bond spoof today’s media-savvy youngsters will get, full of cool gadgets — the Cortez family minivan is nothing like yours, I can guarantee — and mysterious code phrases like “the third brain lives.” Writer/director Robert Rodriguez (The Faculty) can’t resist throwing in a few poop jokes, and this short flick feels a bit too overstuffed: there’s a lot of Willy Wonka, a lot of Tim Burton, and a lot of Saturday morning cartoons here, and they all grate against one another. Not that the kids will care. The creepy robot Thumb-Thumbs may just become the millennial generation’s Oompa Loompas.

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