I sometimes forget that Robert Rodriguez directed the Spy Kids series. I mean the guy directed Sin City and the Mexico Trilogy so I tend to overlook the fact that his first major Hollywood film was a children’s film about kids who become spies. Although, it’s probably because I never saw it. It came out when I was 13 so I definitely thought I was too cool to see it. I definitely wasn’t too cool to see it but that I was even more of an idiot then than I am now. After finally posting my review of Alita this week (I watched it at the start of the month), I was in need of a TBT post and it seemed like the ideal time to finally watch a film I’ve ignored for so long. How bad could it be?
If you think about it, Spy Kids was just a precursor to The Incredibles. Two young children discover that their parents have a secret career and then, in trying to save them, must become part of that career themselves. Rather than superheroes, obviously, the children in Robert Rodriguez’s film must learn to become spies. Which means there is a wonderful and silly Bond style gadgets with a kid twist. I’ve never really understood why this film was so well received when it came out. Now that I’ve seen it, I kind of get it. It’s 18 years old and, I have to be honest, the years haven’t been kind to Spy Kids. It’s journey through puberty has only revealed some badly aged CGI and a kind of dodgy script. But, underneath it all, it’s fun.
The basic story is nothing to write home about but sets up a lot of opportunities for family friendly action sequences and physical comedy. Carmen and Juni Cortez find themselves on a rescue mission when their parents are kidnapped by a supervillain who has been turning secret agents into weirdly mutated television characters. They manage to make their way to the island on which they are being captured but find themselves outnumbered. The pair must find a way to fight their way past an army of strong robotic children that have been created to replace the children of world leaders in order to take over the world. Just your standard afternoon I guess.
What makes Spy Kids sit above the rest of the kind of silly children’s films is Rodriguez’s slick film-making. This film is as wonderfully crafted as anything else he has created. His attention to detail is on point and his focus spot-on. The film is fast-paced and sharp. There is no wasted time and the story is always moving. Yes, technology has moved on but for 2001 this is pretty good. It’s not the kind of sentimental guff you expect from a kid’s film and, instead, is focused on fun. Something that, even someone as cynical as me, has to give a certain amount of respect to. Even though I might be cringing at some of the dialogue at the same time.