I could not find a leaked copy of “Cats” (2019) to review for this week, so “Spy Kids” (2001) was the next logical choice. Both are equally impressive in their use of CGI, but, while ‘Cats’ was met with criticism and opposition, no one really seemed upset with “Spy Kids.” And why would they be? This Robert Rodriguez powerhouse features Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino as the parents of two little brats, Carmen and Juni, played by Mrs. Carlos from “Big Time Rush” and Mr. Meghan Trainor. Surprisingly for a movie directed toward children, this movie managed to rope in my mom.
“Spy Kids” is a very simple movie on the surface; it’s essentially a James Bond flick starring “Home Alone” Macaulay Culkin and “Stranger Things” season one Millie Bobby Brown. I don’t know who saw tweens and thought that they would be perfectly suitable for the high-stakes world of international espionage, but I love it! Even though my 12-year-old self could barely boil water, I think it’s entirely realistic for other 12-year-olds to take down an entire scheme to turn other spies into children’s show characters. The most impressive part of the plot was that these children could navigate themselves to their kidnapped parents. Even now, as a 19 year-old, I can barely navigate from Main to the TAs. But Carmen and Juni do manage to find their parents, and in the process they become full-fledged spies, taking down Tony Shalhoub in the role he was born to play: an evil man named Minion who ends up with four heads. The whole family eventually reunites and the only ones that participated in any action were the children…again, realistic!
The cast of this movie—possibly the most appealing factor for adults and anyone who knows who Antonio Banderas is—counters the zaniness of the plot. The casting director must have been very excited when Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino agreed to do the film. Finally! A movie where two washed-up spy parents also act as the sexual appeal in a children’s film! While the children within the film may mostly be known for “Spy Kids,” they now have notoriety for their marriages. Alexa PenaVega, who played Carmen, is now married to Carlos PenaVega, best known as Carlos from “Big Time Rush.” They apparently decided to just combine their last names… feminist? I’m waiting for Blake and Ryan LivelyReynolds to do the same. The man who played Juni, Daryl Sabara, is also married to someone perfect from the bottom to the top. Meghan Trainor and Daryl Sabara were most famously seen leaving a sex shop right after getting engaged, so I guess my childhood is ruined. I never thought I’d live to see the day when Juni Cortez leaves a sex shop with someone who is all about that bass and not all about that gum that shocks people when you spit it on them.
With a 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, “Spy Kids” proves its place within pop culture and film history. The only spy movie that even comes close to “Spy Kids” is the other kid-friendly spy movie, the 1983 James Bond classic, “Octopussy.” And, they basically possess the same target audience. If you have never seen “Spy Kids,” I urge you to hop on Netflix and watch it immediately before another paparazzi photo of Daryl Sabara and Meghan Trainor leaving a sex shop gets leaked. Don’t let that ruin this movie for you like it almost did for me! And if you too just can’t get enough of the series, the sequel has Steve Buscemi. So just keep watching and you won’t be disappointed. I’d watch anything with that handsome man Steve!
This movie, despite putting children in harm’s way, gets high marks from me. Just try to forget that both of them haven’t gone through puberty, yet are still having to save their kidnapped parents, and your viewing experience should be fine. This movie ultimately gets 95 out of 96 from me, for every time I thought about calling Child Protective Services.