Thursday, April 5, 2001

Movie Review: Spy Kids

Boy, I sure am lazy when it comes to writing these few and far between movie reviews. It's because I'm not paid to do this, really. I don't have any assignments or deadlines to worry about. I don't think very many people read these anyway. I guess the main reason I don't write that many reviews is that I typically only review movies to which I have a strong reaction, either positive or negative. Which brings me to Spy Kids.

It's hard to write about Spy Kids without evoking the whole "previous movie formula" thing (e.g. "Speed = Die Hard + bus", etc.). Therefore, I will try to get through this review without mentioning The Matrix, Home Alone, or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Whoops. Which is not to say these comparisons are not complimentary. They are. Spy Kids has cool Matrix-style action sequences, with Home Alone's energy and exuberance and Willy Wonka's eerie, psychedelic creepiness.

I don't really go into plot stuff in these reviews, and I'm sure you know enough from the previews: Two kids have to save their spy parents who have been kidnapped by a kooky villain. 'Nuff said.

It all boils down to this: for two hours, I felt like I was 10 years old again. If I really were 10, Spy Kids would be my favorite movie of all time. It has everything a little kid could possibly wish for: kid empowerment, awesome gadgets, stunts, weird monsters, and two kids doing the coolest stuff imaginable: flying with jetpacks and mini-rocket-planes, a boat that transforms into a submarine, a microwave that can turn a lump of compressed food into a McDonald's meal, um, what else? There's so much cool shit crammed into this movie that I'm getting excited all over again.

The kids (Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara) are great (no mugging). The story is appropriately silly. Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino (who starred opposite Pauly Shore in the vastly underrated Son-In-Law) are cool, and not overused, as the spy parents, and Alan Cumming and Tony Shaloub are super-creepy as the villains. The character and set designs are, um--running out of adjectives here--let's say far-out. My one complaint is about the special effects: while the ideas were brilliant, I felt they could have used another $10 million or so to make them more fully realized.

I'll try to write more reviews. It's really up to Hollywood to put out more awesome movies as well as more complete shit. Also, I'm lazy.