Spy Kids: All The Time In The World

Dir: Robert Rodriguez
Star: Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook, Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven

Man, I wish they'd had movies like this when I was a kid. I'm pretty sure that, if I was 11, this would be the greatest film ever made - and it never ceases to amaze me that it comes from the same man who has demonstrated, on multiple occasions, as good a grindhouse sensibility as any director out there. It does have a largely new cast, Blanchard and Cook playing Rebecca and Cecil Wilson, whose mother Marissa (Alba) is a "spy mom," unknown to both her kids and her husband [she's also the aunt of the spy kids from the first three films, who both have supporting roles here]. When a villain named Tick-Tock (Piven) starts stealing all the time in the w...oh, you get the idea, Mom's mission is to stop him. Naturally, it's not long before the kids are roped in, along with the family pooch, who turns out not to be quite what he seems (given he's voiced by Ricky Gervais, that's no surprise!). Before the end, everyone will have learned valuable life lessons about working together, finding time for each other and believing in yourself. Y'know: the usual.

Despite this, the morality is handled with a light-enough touch never to become heavy-handed - or, perhaps, it just that there is so much stuff going on, that you never particularly notice it. It's absolutely intended for those with a short attention span, and as such, works impeccably: if this bit doesn't work, don't worry, there'll be something different along in a minute, in a constant blizzard of inventiveness. [I am however, fairly glad the cable version did not adopt the scratch-and-sniff gimmick used in cinemas [last used, if I'm right, in the Rugrats movie]; while there are obvious spots here, they are not ones where I would have been scratching with enthusiasm.] It does, however, fall somewhat short in the way that the father is almost entirely pointless - they could, and perhaps should, have done the entire movie without him. On the other hand, it was impressive how Cecil was deaf, yet no-one really paid attention to the fact: an admirable lesson in how disability should be portrayed, not as a defining characteristic. It's a small point, but worthy of note, and indicative of how much thought Rodriguez puts into a franchise which continues to entertain.

[January 2013]

Sugar rush
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