Spy Kids All the Time in the World
Sometimes filmmakers should just let a series of movies rest in peace. Three flicks qualify as a trilogy and in many cases that should be sufficient to relate a tale in its entity. Unfortunately much of the film industry is motivated by financial gain to the point of eclipsing the artistic necessity of a flick. In the case of the film reviewed here; ‘Spy Kids All the Time in the World’, it is an attempt to extend the rather successful ‘Spy Kids’ franchise. At the start of the new millennium the first three films were released in fairly rapid succession becoming one on the more enjoyable children’s film series around. By casting the adult roles with well respected actors firmly established in their own decidedly more mature careers the parents were given something to relate to while the kids could enjoy the generalized zany antics that typified the franchise. with a longer than usual seven years elapsing since the third film this forth offering can technically be considered a reboot of the series. As is the case with most children’s movies the young stars have grown up working hard at reinventing their careers to reflect their young adult status.
The reboot designation can be applied since the filmmaker has decided on retooling the premise of the story to reflect new characters that can continue the franchise in lieu of the originals. While this forth flick is more difficult for adults to get into it will keep the kids occupied during a rainy afternoon or trip to the grandparents’ house during the holidays. It is only fair to critique a movie like this with different criteria than would rationally be applicable regarding a film geared more exclusively to adults. It’s sort of like the need for juvenile court; different standards exist for films whose primary demographic is an audience of single digit ages. This is pertinent in this consideration mostly because this film has been generally derided by the critical community. Albeit it is plagued by several cinematic errors but please keep in mind that very few elementary schools have a course in the cinematic arts. In order to understand the impetuses of the filmmaker consider that he let go of adult sensibilities in order to make this film. Adults need to let the inner child come out to play; the younger the better. Do not try to apply reason here, just go with it.
OSS agent Marissa, (Jessica Alba) is exceptionally dedicated to her career in international espionage. Even nine months into her pregnancy Marissa is hot on the trail of a dastardly villain, Tick-Tock (Jeremy Piven). Right there grown-ups are going to long for the sixties ‘Batman TV series, it was Chekov next to this flick. The only circumstance that could possibly deter Marissa in her quest happens; she goes into labor resulting in the birth of her daughter, Maria. She already has two step children through her husband, Wilbur Wilson (Joel McHale), Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook). The connection to the original trilogy is a bit complicated considering the targeted viewership. Marissa is the younger sister of the original spy dad, Gregorio Cortez (Antonio Banderas) which also makes her a sibling to the family’s gadget guru, Uncle Machete (Danny Trejo). The most immediate connection here required to place this film in the same continuity as the trilogy is Rebecca and Cecil are first cousins to the original spy kids Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara). He has continued his career with occasional parts in movies and television while Ms Vega has been steadily building her craft with a carefully considered selection of parts to transition from child to young adult roles. The reason most of the actors appearing here became involved in this admittedly flawed film is loyalty to the writer/director Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez is well known for his gritty, violent, neo-grind house films that featured many of the actors appearing here. This is particularly true for Ms Alba and the ever menacing Me. Trejo. The behind the scenes story for this film postulates the idea came to Rodriquez for this movie on the set of ‘Machete’ staring both actors. Alba had just given birth to her daughter and expertly handled the emergency while still in costume. Rodriguez is loyal to his standing troupe of actors and it is quite evident that that feeling is readily reciprocated.
The remainder of what passes for a plot is thin but more than acceptable for the youngsters of the household. The gadgets employed come across as rejects from Inspector Gadget but once again silly is what the filmmaker was striving to achieve and to that goal he succeeded handily. The original theatrical release boasted ‘4-D’ to help reinforce it being the fourth member of the franchise. This was a pure marketing gimmick for the kids where ‘scratch and sniff’ cards with numbered sections were handed out. The corresponding number would flash on the screen and the children could get a whiff of some odor depicted on the screen, usually something gross. Thankfully there was no attempt to recreate this with the home theater. The four disc set does contain a Blu-ray copy, DVD edition and digital copy disc. The remaining disc is the Bu-ray 3D edition of the film which for some reason listed as an extra rather than promoting the set as a 3D release. Amidst the foolishness that dominates the production Alba once again demonstrates an innate ability for humorous roles especially those dependent on physical comedy. For a beautiful actress to embrace family friendly, funny parts is incredibly smart of this actress ensuring a diverse range of parts.
It is odd that such a intense director as Robert Rodriguez should return to this franchise but I suppose it is like sherbet between courses of a fine meal; it cleanses the palette. Returning to kids flicks, especially this franchise indicates that Rodriguez wants to keep his perspective open and not get pigeonholed into the ultraviolent genre. While this movie might be too much for the parents the kids are sure to enjoy it.