Combustible Celluloid
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With: Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alan Cumming, Tony Shalhoub, Teri Hatcher, Richard "Cheech" Marin, Robert Patrick, Danny Trejo, George Clooney
Written by: Robert Rodriguez
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
MPAA Rating: PG for action sequences
Running Time: 88
Date: 03/18/2001

Spy Kids (2001)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Family Bond, 007

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Cool writer/director Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi) has re-invented himself as a dad, and as a side effect of fatherhood, he has now made the coolest kid flick in ages. It doesn't reach the artistry of the Babe movies, but it's done with flair and wit instead of talking down to the audience or marketing toys at them.

Antonio Banderas (also in Rodriguez's Desperado and his Four Rooms segment) and Carla Gugino play enemy spies who fall in love, get married and have kids (Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara). Nine years later, in an attempt at normalcy, the kids don't know about their parents' past. But when Mom and Dad are called back into action, it's up to the kids to save them after the rusty adults fall into a trap. The bad guys' (Teri Hatcher, Robert Patrick and Tony Shalhoub) scheme to take over the world with an army of kid robots masquerades behind a weirdo kids TV show hosted by Alan Cumming.

Spy Kids feels like a homemade effort, but its slapdash energy works very much in its favor. Even the CGI effects feel as if they were done in a garage, which is a refreshing break from boring studio projects. It only trips up when Rodriguez practically stops the action to announce that families should stay together, a message already imbedded in the tale itself. Like all great kids' movies, this one is a must-see for grown-ups as well.

In 2011, Lionsgate released top-notch Blu-Ray editions of the first three Spy Kids movies, along with digital copies. Extras include a new making-of featurette, Rodriguez's great "10 minute film school" featurette, as well as a "10 minute cooking school" featurette. Other extras include a featurette on the stunts, and makeup, and trailers.

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