Spy Kids on DVD
Full of the sort of special effects that used to be reserved for James Cameron films, with pacing and scenery resembling a video game, Spy Kids has a story that must be quickly digested. The movie is as vibrant as a hyperactive nine-year-old—fitting for an action-adventure film whose heroes are children.
The Cortez kids live seemingly normal suburban lives. Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara) certainly act like real siblings—they fight constantly. Vega and Sabara handle their roles well and capture the typical love/hate sibling relationship. What Carmen and Juni don't know is that their parents, Ingrid (Carla Gugino) and Gregorio (Antonio Banderas), are retired spies who used to work for the OSS. The grownups gave up espionage to pursue the mission of having a family, but an emergency calls them back into action: Seven OSS spies have vanished, and Ingrid and Gregorio decide to save their old comrades and relive their glory days.
Unfortunately, the parents wind up prisoners of their foe, Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming). Floop not only has a diabolical plan, he also hosts the No.2 children's television show, Floop's Fooglies. His plan is to create an army of robot children, who look harmless but are indestructible, then take over the world.
Carmen and Juni learn from their Uncle Felix (Cheech Marin) that their parents are retired spies, and soon realize that it's up to them to save their parents and the world. Using gadgets from the family spy shop, they fly a plane, zoom around with jetpacks, and spit electromagnetic gum at the enemy, among other amazing spy kid activities.
Spy Kids is chock-full of color, imaginative gadgets, and computer-generated special effects. The widescreen anamorphic picture is crisp and bright. I heard more music than anything else from the surround channels, but there are plenty of explosions and zooming effects.
This cutting-edge children's film lends itself well to the DVD format, and the slick menus fit the high-tech image of espionage. The main menu lists Scene Selection, Trailers, Setup, and Sneak Peek. Scene Selection displays a collection of screens, each showing a part of its scene and all running simultaneously. Sneak Peek is just a clever advertisement for upcoming Disney films and the Spy Kids Website, and Setup selects English, French, or Spanish.
There are no deleted scenes or behind-the-scenes documentaries. I'd like to know how such a visually imaginative film was created, and to know more about director Robert Rodriguez (The Faculty, From Dusk Till Dawn, El Mariachi).
One thing you can discern from the movie itself is Rodriguez' Latino influence. Texas-born Rodriguez incorporates Spanish-language and Latino references throughout, which fits with Banderas' and Marin's roles as the dad and his brother. Whatever your age, you can sit back, enjoy the show, and get back in touch with your hyperactive inner child.