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