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Gregorio and Ingrid are the two greatest secret agents the world has ever known: masters of disguise, mavens of invention, able to stop wars before they even start. Working for separate countries, they are sent to eliminate their most dangerous enemy... each other. But in an exotic corner of the world when they finally come face to face, they fall in love instead and embark on the most dangerous mission...
For more about Spy Kids and the Spy Kids Blu-ray release, see Spy Kids Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on July 26, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa PenaVega, Daryl Sabara, Alan Cumming, Tony Shalhoub
Director: Robert Rodríguez (I)
» See full cast & crew
Spy Kids Blu-ray Review
The family that spies together, dies together. That can't be right, can it?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, July 26, 2011
Any of you readers who are also parents know how it's well nigh impossible to be "cool" to your kids. Oh, sure, when they're toddlers you might enjoy a few passing months of them engaging in hero worship, but somewhere around the time they master the art of saying (or screaming) "No!," you suddenly realize the glory days are over and done with. Occasionally, though, you might be able to eke out a moment or two where you're at least passably acceptable to your kids, if not outright cooliscious. About a year after Spy Kids was released, my family needed a new car to replace a van my wife may or may not have plowed into another car with, and we started shopping around for an SUV, which were then the reigning rage. We quickly settled on a rather sporty four wheel drive capable Isuzu Axiom, the first brand new car I had ever purchased. Within just a few days, someone mentioned to us that this was a "Spy Kids car," and for a few brief shining moments, I was inarguably cool with my sons. It passed. Of course, parents turning out to be unexpectedly way cool is a major subtext of Spy Kids, a bright and breezy entertainment from a completely unlikely source: Robert Rodriguez, who had pre-Spy Kids made a name for himself with lo-fi or quasi-lo-fi outings like El Mariachi and From Dusk to Dawn. Spy Kids was about as radical a departure as anyone could have expected—if something like this can be expected at all—from Rodriguez, and one of the most amazing things about this initial outing, as well as the three film (so far) franchise as a whole, is how perfectly able Rodriguez was in crafting a sleek, adventurous and actually family friendly film that managed to work on several levels simultaneously, making it instantly visceral for the kiddies while kind of cheekily amusing to the parents.
Rodriguez in one of the extras on this Blu-ray seems surpised that no one had ever thought of a film featuring kid spies before, to which I had to mentally respond, "Any kid who ever watched a James Bond movie thought about starring in a spy movie." Be that as it may, this is high concept film making of the highest order, one whose pitch is aptly summed up in its title. However, once one actually gets into the nuts and bolts of Spy Kids, the film seems like a rather odd combination of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and the original Ian Fleming (wow! James Bond again) children's book version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (as opposed to the elephantine film musical of the same name). Spy Kids may not exactly be aces in the plot department, but it is a virtual riot of production design and some (then) state of the art special effects.
Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara portray Carmen and Juni Cortez, two young kids who of course think their parents Gregorio (Antonio Banderas) and Ingrid (Carla Gugino) are lame. This despite the facts that the kids live in a palatial coastal hideaway and that their parents are glamorous enough to be, well, movie stars. Of course the joke is that Ingrid and Gregorio are semi-retired "super spies" (actually part of a group called the Organization of Super Spies) who become suspicious that a children's show featuring a Willy Wonka-esque character named Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming) has something to do with the mysterious disappearance of a rash of other OSS agents. Since Ingrid and Gregorio haven't been practicing their spying ways regularly since the birth of their children, they soon fall prey to the same nefarious plot that the other agents have, and Carmen and Juni, now newly aware of how cool their parents really are, are forced to come to their rescue.
Rodriguez does a number of very smart things with regard to Spy Kids that instantly elevates the film above its generic high concept formulations. First of all, Rodriguez ultimately doesn't give a damn about the ins and outs of the rather silly plot, and that's actually a good thing. Spy parents in danger, spy kids must help them. That's basically it. What that leaves is a handful or two of odd and endearing characters, including the more or less "normal" Ingrid, Gregorio, Juni and Carmen, who nonetheless aren't above typical dysfunctional family sniping at each other. The real interest here is in the completely odd human and non-human supporting cast, including a fey Cumming as Floop, a very funny Tony Shalhoub as the pre-Despicable Me named Mr. Minion, and finally a bunch of robots which are literally all thumbs (you'll have to see the film to completely understand this reference). Rodriguez simply throws caution to the wind and fills this film with one bizarre sight after another, which gives Spy Kids its carnival like atmosphere.
Also perhaps more important to Rodriguez personally than to the audience as a whole is the nicely woven in Hispanic element, one which puts family first above all the spy shenanigans and incredible gadgetry. This is where Spy Kids finds a perhaps unexpected emotional heft, for underneath the gags and silliness, there's a very heartfelt foundation here which seeks to show how important family is, whether or not that family is facing a series of nemeses bent on world domination. It may not be cool to say it, but family is where it's at in this first Spy Kids outing, and it's this element more than any other that gives the film its lasting allure.
Spy Kids Blu-ray, Video Quality
Spy Kids bursts onto Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. The film looks remarkably sharp and well defined in this new high definition presentation, one which ups the looney-tunes, cartoon-like color palette rather dramatically from the DVD release. Colors are fairly bursting, almost ready to pop (and/or bloom), a lot of the time throughout the film. Fine detail is quite good and the overall image is sharp, with little if any damage in evidence. There's some fairly noticeable edge enhancement in a couple of scenes, as well as some fleeting aliasing a time or two. Some of the early 2000's CGI isn't up to contemporary standards and can look a bit soft, but otherwise this is a solid, mostly artifact free presentation that should delight the film's fans.
Spy Kids Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Spy Kids's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is a whiz-bang funhouse ride of immersion and surround activity, one which starts relatively quietly but which soon builds into one wonderfully realized effect after another. Once Ingrid and Gregorio take off on their quest to discover what's going on with Floop, things get very busy in the soundfield, but in this very well handled mix, everything is prioritized more or less perfectly and excellently directional effects are placed with great care, giving a near nonstop immersion (in one case literally, as the adult spies dive under water). The film also has some extremely robust LFE scattered throughout its running time, both in terms of effects and some synth-laden underscore cues. Fidelity is excellent throughout Spy Kids, and while this film's rather relentless "turned up to 11" approach to sound mixing argues against huge dynamic range, what's here is very well differentiated.
Spy Kids Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Spy Kids Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Spy Kids doesn't have much on its mind, but the good news is it has an abundance of heart. This is just pure silliness a lot of the time, but it's completely enjoyable silliness. The fact that this came from Robert Rodriguez may well be the most surprising thing about Spy Kids, but the writer-director proves himself a near perfect helmsman for an entertainment that has no grand ambitions other than, well, to entertain. Filled with wonderful gadgetry and some good to excellent special effects, Spy Kids is whimsical, slightly lunatic, and just flat out fun. Highly recommended.
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• Spy Kids: All the Time in the World Blu-ray - September 26, 2011
Anchor Bay Entertainment and Dimension Films will release Spy Kids: All the Time in the World on Blu-ray this November. The fourth installment in the popular Spy Kids franchise, the film focuses on ex-spy Marissa Cortez Wilson (Jessica Alba, Sin City), who is ...
• Spy Kids, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams and Spy Kids 3: G... - May 11, 2011
Just in time for the new theatrical film Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World releasing in 3-D nationwide on August 19, 2011, Lionsgate will debut the three Miramax films that started it all on Blu-ray Disc - Spy Kids, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams and ...
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