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Movie Review

Spy Kids a.k.a. “Mini espías,” “Дети Шпионов,” “008 çilgin çocuklar,” “Espions en herbe,” “Kémkölykök,” “MINIespías,” “Pequenos Espiões”

MPAA Rating: PG for action sequences and brief language

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids, Family
Action Kids Comedy
1 hr. 28 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
March 30, 2001
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Relevant Issues
Scene from “Spy Kids”

Spies in the Bible

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Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Antonio Banderas (as Gregorio Cortez), Carla Gugino (Ingrid Cortez), Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Alan Cumming, Tony Shalhoub, Teri Hatcher, Cheech Marin, Robert Patrick, Danny Trejo, Mike Judge, Richard Linklater, Guillermo Navarro, Johnny Reno, Shannon Shea, Norman Cabrera, Trant Batey, Andy W. Bossley, Jeff Dashnaw, Kara Slack, Ermahn Ospina, Emilio Navarro Mackissack, Evan Sabara, Rachel Duhame, Houston Hooker, Addisyn Fair, Louis Black, Charles Ramirez-Berg, Dick Clark, Steve Havens, Roberto Santibanez, Julio Villareal, Becca Rodriguez, Patricia Vonne, Angela Lanza, George Clooney, Brinton Bryan, Devin Carbaugh, Jeremy Denzlinger, Jace Jeanes, Zoe Keller, Lin Oeding, Troy Robinson, Phillip Wolf
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Producer: Dimension Films, Troublemaker Studios, Elizabeth Avellan, Cary Granat, Robert Rodriguez, Bill Scott, Tamee Smith Zimmerman, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Distributor: Dimension Films

“Spy Kids” is quite possibly one of the best “family-friendly” action films to hit the big screen in a long time. It is “Willy Wonka”-fantasy meets “James Bond”-style action. While there is plenty of familiar territory in the film, it is all exceptionally produced. “Spy Kids” is well-crafted, well-acted, and well-directed.

The film centers around the Cortez family. The parents are Gregorio (Antonio Banderas) and Ingrid (Carla Gugino) Cortez, retired professional spies. They met as enemies determined to kill each other, but instead fell in love and now are devoted to raising their two children. Gregorio and Ingrid aren’t your stereotypical clueless adults. Mom spends time reading to the children, including many concerned and involved conversations about the children’s well being in school. The children are an average brother/sister team. Carmen (Alexa Vega) is the older sibling and the protector. Juni (Daryl Sabara) is the nerdy coming-of-age brother. While there is some sibling rivalry present, writer/director Robert Rodriguez surprisingly uses it as a positive vehicle.

Scene from “Spy Kids”The story steps into the action as smooth as the first long hill of a roller coaster, and once you crest the hill it is non-stop. Mom and Dad are drawn out of retirement as many former spies disappear. An evil minion named Minion (Tony Shaloub) kidnaps mom and dad. The “I-must-rule-the-world” villain is Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming). Fegan has a children’s show that hides his clever scheme for world-domination. His fantasy seaside castle is complete with robot-clone-kids and Thumb Monsters that resemble an evil counterpart of the Oomphas of Willy Wonka fame. His exact copies of children in the world are lacking one thing—artificial intelligence.

The film includes wonderful appearances by Cheech Martin and Teri Hatcher. Be sure to watch for the cameo by George Cloney. The rocket packs, child-size jets, and a whole array of wonderful gadgets work well in this fantastic release. Instead of undermining familiar, “Spy Kids” teaches positive messages about morality and never insults the family unit. The violence, while present, is not scary. The language is so scarce that the film is closer to a G rating than a PG rating. There is one instance where a character begins to say a curse word, but quickly changes it into a word from another language. don’t miss the great dialogue at the end of the film.

Take your kids (5 and up recommended), your entire family, and make an excuse to see this one more than once. it’s worth it! When it is released to video, you will enjoy this rare treat in your family library. Take some time to send Mr. Rodriquez and Dimension Films a note of thanks for an absolutely fun action film.

ATTENTION HOLLYWOOD: You can make great films!

Viewer Comments
This is not a serious spy movie, which you “get” in the first parachute scene (a hilarious visual gag), but more like a spy fantasy. It is a humorous spoof of spy movies in the venue of Austin Powers without all the offensive sexual humor, but with nearly as absurd of characters, plot, and motives. Particularly fascinating and over-the-top are the spy gadgets, the larger of which have a Dr. Seuss feel to them. Criticisms are the manic pace and always shot-too-close cinematography, which gave us both headaches in the first 10 minutes, but the kids in the audience (70%) seemed to love the cartoonish style of the film. There are plenty of laughs for the adults, and lots of absurd excitement and plot twists for the kids. In general this is the kind of movie Christians have been saying will “work” for years… so we will see if we were right. It dares break new ground by not having the gratuitous sex scene per the Hollywood formula, but does have one cuss word which seemed very silly to include. The morality in the film comes off as making-fun-of-itself, like a satire of moralistic plot-lines, so don’t go hoping for much or expecting the worst. This movie simply dares to be entertainment—pure and simple—and it basically works, much like the old Disney films did. One imagines old Walt would have made such a film if he had such dazzling special effects in his day.
—Dean and Laura VanDruff, age 40 and 30
This movie is one of the best all-kids movies I have seen in a long time. It is full of plain old fun. The plot is adventurous, the gadgets are ingenious, the kids are so cute, and there are a lot of laughs throughout. I was so impressed that no profanity whatsoever showed up the entire movie. The story line was straightforward and innocent without being corny or lame. The acting was surprisingly good. And adults will enjoy it as well. I’m so glad they’ve already signed on to do the sequel. Miramax and Robert Rodriguez (the director/writer/producer) are not known for their “family” films. I hope box office sales and good reviews encourage them to keep this kind of wholesome fun at the movies up!
My Ratings: [Good / 4½]
—Lori Lundquist, age 27
You can take your entire family to this movie. It is fabulous! It also has a great pro-family message at the end. You will not be bored.
—Sharon, age 48
This was sooooo adorable! What a family movie! It is sooooo clean! There is one time when Carmen says shitake mushrooms to cover up her language. Very Very cute! I was laughing the whole time! This is an awesome movie!
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Kaley, age 14
A cute, fun movie. I really liked it, although there are too many plot twists thrown at you and the action slows down a lot in the last third or so. Still, this is the type of movie I would have made if I could make movies. No cursing, no guns, kid heroes who (for once) don’t use vocabulary straight of a thesaurus, lots of action, and adult characters who actually act like adults and kid characters who actually act like kids. They do drive the “family” point home… near the end, with the kids themselves saying that keeping a family together is what’s important and things like that; but then, when I was a kid, I didn’t mind being moralized to as long as the story was good. Some kids in the audience may not mind it either, but some parts of the dialog do seem a bit unrealistic. Still, this is a great movie to take your family to. Moments of unobtrusive humor for those who like that (and I generally dislike humor in a kids’ movie), plenty of action, and a story that, although unrealistic, doesn’t insult your intelligence. I’d love to see more films like this!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Chris G., age 19
…enjoyed by my 11 and 12 year old and was also entertaining to my wife and I. …emphasis Mom and Dad in a positive light as well “saving the family being the most important mission” in life. How refreshing! It seems that movie producers are beginning to recognize that positive family values sell better than the typical Hollywood material.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Ron and Belinda Clark, age 44
This was a great film. There was some violence like fistfights etc. but nothing gory. A few misuses of God’s name and a slightly altered s-word but other than that it was good. There’s even a reference to Cain and Abel. It was a great family film!
My Ratings: [Good / 3]
—K.E., age Teen
I was very happy with this movie. The kids never cussed at each other, but I was upset with the fact that you never find out why Carmen was skipping school. I thought that the way that it expressed family values was well done. This movie was worth my allowance and my time.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 4]
—Josiah Shipley, age 11
Parents, if you have been waiting for Hollywood to make a movie that you can watch with your kids without wanting to crawl under the seat on the sticky floors of the theater, THIS IS IT! I absolutely LOVED this movie. It was very entertaining and CLEAN! A clean movie these days are VERY VERY rare. We took kids from ages 5-13 and they all loved it. Take your kids and have a great time.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 4½]
—Kurt, age 36
I took my 3 kids, ages 14, 12, and 10 to see this movie, and they loved it! The theatre was packed and the kids in the room seemed to be having a ball! There was slapstick action scenes, but no blood, gore, etc. This movie is very pro-family, showing what can happen when families stick together and work together to overcome whatever comes their way. The special effects were great and this movie was never dull. The adults in the room seemed to enjoy the movie as well as the kids! It is so nice to be able to take your kids to a movie and you don’t have to cringe or cover their eyes or ears when something “bad” comes on during the movie. Younger kids may be somewhat scared of the chase scenes but it just depends on the level of maturity and age of the child. My children had no problems with this movie whatsoever. This movie was great!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Sheri James, age 36
Our family went to see “Spy Kids” (2 adults and a 13-yr-old). This is a movie for everyone. There is no blood and gore, no swearing (unless you consider shitake mushrooms). Action packed, this is a family version of a James Bond spy movie with loads of special effects that will keep everyone happy. I was also impressed with the theme of family. The original spies gave up their work for their family until they were needed to “save the world.” The kids respect and love their parents. We found the movie a refreshing change. Way to go Hollywood, we need more films like this.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 4½]
—Rose, age 47
Movie Critics
…Moral worldview about defeating evil and the importance of family…
—Dr. Ted Baehr, Movieguide
…a few colorful phrases, although one character gets away—to a degree—with saying the “s” word…
…recommended for ages 6 and older…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Lots of action and chase scenes but no blood or gore…