Jeffrey's Review of Spy Kids
Troublemaker Studios and its creator, Robert Rodriguez, capitalize on the fame of the last year's Spy Kids with a VERY quick follow-up, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams. The first film was a surprise hit that, frankly, was one of the best modern family films ever made. Setting aside his routine overly-violent pictures ala Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez found the right formula for entertaining both kids and adults. Though the first half hour or so had me thinking he blew his wad early, by the end of the film, I was just as pleased with the sequel as I was the original.
For those of you who saw the first one, you will remember that one of the agents the family rescues from Minion is played by actor and Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge. In the sequel, the OSS (I never caught what it stood for...Organization of Secret Spies or something...) has developed an entire Junior OSS program of Spy Kids. In fact, Mike Judge's character is agent Donnagon Giggles. He is made the new director of the OSS (the original director was played by George Clooney in a cameo in the first film) and places his own children, Gary and Gerti Giggles, at the top of the Spy Kids hierarchy. As a result, the new top Spy Kids get the best assignment and compete with the film's original Spy Kids, Carmen and Juni Cortez.
Donnagon turns out to be a power-hungry spy who is searching for the Transmooker device, which can shut down all electricity on Earth. He uses his position to send his own kids and, subsequently the entire Cortez family, which now includes Grandpa and Grandma, played by veteran actors Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor, on a search for this device on a secret island. This island is actually an illusion that, as a result of the Transmooker's power, shuts down any electrical device that nears it. This makes the cool gadgets and trinkets used in the first film, not to mention the cool new ones, useless. Without the ability to use any of the vehicles or gadgets, travel to the center of the island is treacherous, requiring the Spy Kids to use their brains, instincts and natural abilities. Unlike the first film, it's the PARENTS this time that have to go search for their kids.
As I mentioned above, the "family" component of the first film continues into this one. We meet an extended piece of the family when Ingrid's, played by the INCREDIBLY sexy Carla Gugino, parents decide to join in the search for young Carmen and Juni. Grandma and Grandpa, who apparently never agreed with Ingrid's decision to marry Gregorio, played once again by Antonio Banderas, learn to accept their son-in-law while also helping to save the day.
The first half hour of the movie is very fast. Rodriguez actually does a pretty bad job of getting the audience to the point of the movie. Granted Robert had to create a film that kept the attention of both kids and adults, but cramming so much detail into the first half hour was a bit hard to swallow. The rest of the movie was at a decent pace though and the story unraveled rather well.
If you want a good film with excellent action, minimal violence and almost nothing bad, in terms of language and innuendo, Spy Kids 2 delivers.