Directed by Robert Rodriguez.
Written by Robert Rodriguez.
Starring Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega and Daryl
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 4/8/01
you are reading this review and have not already gone to see
"Memento", shame on you. Go see it at your soonest opportunity.
Then, you will appear to be "cool" to me again.)
Every so often, I try and catch a kid's film
because I like to see what passes for funny or "cool" with the
6-to-12-year-old set for which these films are intended. And, since
my younger sisters can't read most of my movie reviews because of
the language included in them, I aim to please the two of them every
so often by seeing something that they recommend.
So, I went to the local superplex on Friday
to see "Spy Kids." I had heard decent things about this movie
beforehand, and I was further excited by an interview with the
film's director, Robert Rodriguez ("From Dusk Till Dawn",
"Desperado"). Rodriguez said in the interview that he aimed to make
a kid's film that the adults in the audience wouldn't have to suffer
through just to make the kids happy.
In the movie, two world-class spies (Antonio
Banderas, Carla Gugino) have retired from the spy game and for nine
long years, they have busied themselves with raising their two
children, Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara). After one of
the parents' long-time spy friends is captured by the ruthless Floop
(Alan Cumming), they get back into the thrill of the hunt...only to
be immediately captured by Floop and his henchmen. The kids spend
the remainder of the movie trying to locate their parents and save
the world from an army of robots called Spy Kids (they are
indestructible and look just like your kids!!) being created at
The plot is silly, but that was okay with me
given that it was a kids' movie. And, as in all kid movies like
this, the overacting is apparent in every frame; cameos by Teri
Hatcher, Cheech Marin and Robert Patrick from "The X-Files" add to
the fun. Since the majority of the movie is spent with Carmen and
Juni, it is helpful that Vega and Sabara are pretty good in their
roles and Vega, in particular, seems to be the one with the most
upside for future projects. Her Carmen is pretty spunky and I liked
her tough attitude throughout. And, Danny Trejo is in "Spy Kids",
who for my money has the toughest, meanest face in the history of
film. He plays a gadget maker named Machete in this movie, and even
when he is trying to smile, it comes off as painful-looking and
tough. Just Trejo being in this movie gives it a bit of an edge for
a PG-rated film. (You may remember Trejo as the crazy
knife-wielding assassin in "Desperado"...when he grits his teeth,
you realize that you never want to see the guy in a dark alley.)
The action sequences are pretty cool and the
spy gadgetry does the trick. And, as promised, Rodriguez does
manage to slip a couple of funny one-liners into the script that
keep the adults in the audience involved. Overall, this is pretty
good stuff...and, for a movie to go from beginning to end without a
single gun showing up is pretty impressive, and somehow, Rodriguez
managed to do it. A great movie to take the kids to and not a bad
choice for anybody to go check out.
Rating: $8.25 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard