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Dan Heller's Movie Review of "Spy Kids 2"


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Daryl Sabara, Alexa Vega
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Daryl Sabara, Alexa Vega
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Antonio Banderas, Ricardo Montalban, Carla Gugino, Holland Taylor
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Making kid movies that also appeal to adults is a difficult task, but Spy Kids 2 does the trick. Like its predecessor, this sequel seems to have it all: kid-appealing humor, special effects, intelligent wit for the adults, a quick-paced storyline to keep even the most easily bored viewer interested, and a moral message of family values that would even elicit an "aww, shucks" from the die-hard single guy that likes to see things blow up! While the first Spy Kids film was better in that it was fresh and less "deliberate" than its sequel, this in no way detracts from the endearing qualities of the latter film.

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Daryl Sabara, Alexa Vega
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Spy Kids 2 picks up where the first left of by the formalization of the "kid" division of the CSS, a loose reference to the CIA, where the Cortez family of spies - who also happen to be tastefully understated multi-ethnic - are vying for prominent positions. The father, Gregorio, played by Antonio Banderas, is expected to become the head of the agency, but is suspiciously usurped by the father of the Spy Kids' nemesis, the brother-sister team of Gary and Gerti Giggles, who are also vying to displace the Cortez children as the leading spy kids. When the disaster happens that calls each team into action to save the world from destruction, the plot becomes a three-way competition - good guy against good guy against evil-doer.

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Daryl Sabara
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The entire movie is chock full of special effects, and was shot entirely digitally, that the "texture" of the film emulsion itself feels surreal. Surprisingly, this, along with the continually repeated theme that "family" is the most important thing of all, never seem tiring. There is a thin line between passively suggestive morality statements and the cramming of said messages down one's throat. Both Spy Kids films do a very good job at avoiding both, without also sounding like a parody of such simplistic and usually sophomoric messages. In both films, kids take center stage, and are always more important than the adults. Some ideas and themes from other movies are tastefully and quietly lifted so as to not look like yet another formula flick. This didn't bother me too much either. I just found it a shame that there were so many tongue-in-cheek adult jokes that completely went over the heads of the other adults in the audience, that I had to be the sole voice laughing hysterically.

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Daryl Sabara, Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega
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My only criticism of the movie is a personal one: one of my favorite actors, Steve Buscemi, has a less-than-dramatic part. He'd be great as the wildly weird villain, but you can't have everything. While it's probably exceedingly difficult to make a film that can satisfy children as well as adults, and still manage to spew messages of family values without inducing nausea, this isn't a film to compare with non-kid films. This is light-fare kid stuff, and that can't be forgotten. What's important to me is that it was thoroughly entertaining and I hope they make another.

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Emily Osment, Matthew O'Leary
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Steve Buscemi
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