Review by Harvey Karten
2½ stars out of 4
If you have $100,000 of discretional income lying around and you love
to travel, would you use it to finance a ticket to the moon–a journey
now being advertised in sections for sophisticated travelers? Here
is another option. You could spend less that traveling to the Island
of Lost Dreams which, contrary to its name would be quite an adventurous
place to be. As shown in Robert Rodriguez's sequel to "Spy Kids,"
now called not surprisingly "Spy Kids 2," a quartet of prodigious
young folks have gone to this place ahead of their parents; in fact,
they want to prove that they can solve some mysteries without the
help of their elders and find, Hollywood style, that despite the technology
at their command, good, old-fashioned closeness to your roots is preferable
even to cell phones.
These kids have access to quite a few more gadgets than the ubiquitous
cell phones, however, and why wouldn't they? A picture that cost
Dimension Films some $37 million to produce features an array of technology
that just about any gadget-crazed American could love, making the
movie presumably accessible to those over the age of thirty who are
taken by their small fry to this event. While the kids in the audience
are bound to be exited by all the cartoonist behavior they see on
the big screen, there isn't much in Rodriguez's script to draw in
the older people. Like the first feature a flimsy tale, this one
will be considered a by-the-numbers follow-up by those who have reached
the age of maturity, but who cares? "Spy Kids 2" stars a 13-year-old
girl and her nine-year-old brother and those are about the limits
of the targeted audience.
The story opens on a madman's theme park created by Dinky Winks (Bill
Paxton), who treats the U.S. President's spunky daughter to a ride
on the kind of vomitorium that used to be found in Coney Island's
Steeplechase Park. Apparently the young lass (Taylor Momsen) has
pilfered a gadget that the Unabomber would love; a circular contraption
with which the world's electricity could be shut down with the touch
of a button. Rouge OSS director Donnagon (Mike Judge), whose children
are Gary and Gerti Giggles (Matt O'Leary & Emily Osment), opts to
retrieve the circular thing in the title island and use it to take
over the world. But he hadn't counted on the expertise and enthusiasm
of young Carmen Cortez (Alexa Vega) and her kid brother Juni (Daryl
Sabara) or on their parents Gregorio (Antonio Banderas) and Ingrid
(Carla Gugino). Nor had he imagined fighting off the cloned creatures
produced by mad scientist Romero (Steve Buscemi), who oddly does not steal the show.
The movie contains a few obvious in-law jokes, with Gregorio horrified
by the sight of his mom-in-law (Holland Taylor) and the kids' granddaddy
(Ricardo Montalban). In the end they all get together and realize
the importance of family, but not before writer-director-producer
Rodriguez, who made his first movie for $7,000, proves that he can't
top "El Mariachi" despite the expense of Hover-Shoes (which enable
the young spies to fly), Watches (which, Bond-style, can do everything
but tell time), R.A.L.P.H (a tiny robot which is improvement over
the spiders in "Minority Report"), and a Dragon Spy Ship which can
do everything the other gadgets cannot.
The technology used by the spies and villains up the James Bond ante
by some exponent or other, at least that of "From Russia With Love,"
but absent the charm and wit and Pierce Brosnan, this one is strictly
for the kiddies. And for them the pic is recommended.
Copyright © 2002 Harvey Karten