Bruce Fretts
September 21, 2001 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Spy Kids

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG
runtime
93 minutes
Wide Release Date
03/30/01
performer
Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Daryl Sabara, Alexa Vega, George Clooney, Alan Cumming, Teri Hatcher, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub
director
Robert Rodriguez
Producers
Dimension Films, Troublemaker Studios
distributor
Dimension Films, Miramax
author
Robert Rodriguez
genre
Kids and Family, ActionAdventure, Comedy
We gave it a C+

Spy Kids represents a cinematic milestone of sorts: It’s the first Hollywood schlockbuster for the post-Pokémon generation. In other words, it’s just like every other overproduced, underwritten action craptacular except…the spies are kids!

The concept is so simple, even a toddler could understand it: When a pair of married secret agents (Carla Gugino and Antonio Banderas, coasting on his charisma) are taken prisoner by an evil kiddie TV-show host (uncured ham Alan Cumming), they must be rescued by their preteen offspring (Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara, who refreshingly don’t look like cookie-cutter child actors).

Writer-director Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn) lays the digital trickery on thick in an attempt to draw attention from the script’s essential emptiness. Why bother coming up with innovative plotting and clever dialogue when the unsophisticated target audience will happily swallow predictable twists (the old doublecrossing-minion routine) and preprogrammed catchphrases (”Never send an adult to do a kid’s job!”)? It’s a would-be ”gee-whiz” flick that mostly leaves you saying ”ho-hum.” C+

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