director/script/editing : Robert Rodriguez
cinematography : Guillermo Navarro
stars : Alex Vega, Daryl Sabara, Alan Cumming, Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino
Another cheesily enjoyable romp from the director* of The Faculty and From Dusk Till Dawn, Spy Kids is a zappy spoof of Bond, Mission Impossible, Austin Powers and Charlie’s Angels – for the under-twelves. When their undercover secret-agent parents (Banderas, Gugino) are kidnapped by a megalomaniac kiddie-TV presenter (Cumming), plucky anklebiters Carmen and Juni (Vega, Sabara) spring into daredevil action. A surprise smash in the US, the movie has sufficient gadgets, stunts and action to fare just as well overseas.
Adults will find it watchable enough, thanks to the star cameos, endless movie in-jokes and, most of all, Cumming’s flamboyantly post-modern Willy Wonka. But, compared to his full-tilt excesses in Titus and the stage Cabaret, this is Cumming in relatively restrained mode – and unlike, say, The Emperor’s New Groove, Spy Kids isn’t quite wild enough to make it worthwhile for over-twelves without kids in tow.
*nb Rodriguez is also author of Rebel Without A Crew, which tells the story behind the making of his $7,000 debut El Mariachi, and remains a must-read for all aspiring young directors.
April 10th, 2001