The original Spy Kids was surprise hit for kids everywhere and a unlike most sequels a second helping is actually welcome. Robert Rodriguez again directs, as well as writing, producing, helping with music and supervising Digital photography, one wonders if he got involved with the catering as well.
The pint sized secret agents Carmin (Alex Vega) & Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara) return, looking a little older but still clearly delighted to be able to act like mini James Bonds and use the coolest gadgets available. The use of CGI is extensive, which enables the fantastical world to come alive and whilst not up to ILM standards, the effects add rather than detract from the story.
Antonio Banderas & Carla Gugino (as mother and father respectively) seem prepared to send themselves up at every opportunity. “Enjoying” the presence of overbearing, albeit well intentioned parents in law (Ricardo Montalban & Holland Taylor), from half way through the adventure. Also we get to see Alan Cummings, Tony Shaloub & Bill Paxton in small parts, which shows the kind of pull Rodriguez now has.
Steve Buscemi gets to play a mad scientist type creating “mini animals” for children, which get out of control and threaten to turn him into lunch. It is amazing to see the variety of roles that Buscemi can play, be believable and add considerably to what must have existed on the script page.
The largely irrelevant plot involves the president’s daughter, the loss of some gadget Mac Guffin and a race to recover it before a new set of mini spies get there first. These interlopers, who happen to be the offspring of the newly promoted OSS (Kids MI5), have access to even more up to date gadgets, which frustrates our heroes until they reach the Lost Island where none of these toys work anyway.
The kids get to beat up adults with wire assisted Kung Fu kicks, in a primary coloured world with cartoon style sound effects. Villainous waiters are transported back to their mother ship via a huge magnet, although I noticed them massaging their necks when they arrived back at base afterwards. Quite how many six year olds with a mouthful of ice cream would notice this nod to reality, I am unsure.
All of the younger actors do well, given their ages and the physical demands placed upon them. They are clearly having a great time, as will any kids this side of the silver screen. Rodriguez will obviously need to get back to directing some violent blood soaked movie before returning cleansed for a third family outing.
Good family sized entertainment where the adults play it straight and the kids get to kick adult and monster butt. Hard to criticise when the whole project is completed with such infectious enthusiasm by big kids for smaller ones.