Spy Kids Review

Aug 24, 2001 | 2:34pm EDT

Internationally renowned secret agents Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) have left spying behind to retire comfortably and raise their children Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara). Upon learning popular kiddie show host Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming) is plotting world domination via an army of robotic children the Cortezes take on one last mission to stop him - but the couple is soon captured by the mastermind behind the evil plan. Unaware of their parents' secret past Carmen and Juni are abruptly thrust into the spy game when they must rescue Mom and Dad utilizing a host of technogadgets and gizmos. This movie's impressive cast is outstanding. Banderas in a pencil-thin mustache and sweet-faced Gugino are delightfully smooth operators the Nick and Nora Charles of modern espionage. Cumming steals the show; he's Pee-wee Herman as the Wizard of Oz a troubled yet endearing soul (his Oz-like scene with Juni in the cloud-filled virtual room is terrific). The precocious 12-year-old Vega is a real find - she and Sabara (well cast as the scaredy-cat little brother who learns how to overcome his fears) bicker and scrap like real-life sibs but band together when they must. Watch for an unexpected cameo surprise at the movie's end too. Who'da thunk it ... violent action filmmaker Robert Rodriguez as kiddie-flick maestro? 'Tis true - Rodriguez's low-budget leanings lend themselves perfectly to this Willy Wonka-esque bit of whimsy - who cares about special eefct wizardry when you could have a movie this inventive going about it the old-fashioned way? Adults will especially appreciate the visual appeal (the beautiful surreal wedding sequence in the film's beginning is one of the best scenes in the movie) and pop-culture references the little ones might miss (ie; backwards speech à la the Beatles). Rodriguez himself has said he counts Dali and Gaudi among his influences; it shows in the movie's ultrabright colors and supreme attention to detail right down to the Cortezes' desk accessories.

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