Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

29 Dec

Title: Spy Kids: All the Time in the World
Year: 2011
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook, Jessica Alba, Joel McHale, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Jeremy Piven, Ricky Gervais, Danny Trejo
MPAA Rating: PG, mild action and rude humor
Runtime: 89 min
IMDb Rating: 3.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 23%
Metacritic: 37

 

I love the first Spy Kids movie, I remember seeing it when I was about ten years-old and loving it, and I’ve watched it a couple times since and it holds, it’s just a remarkable piece of really fun entertainment. The second one, while not as awesome, still is hugely entertaining. Then came the third one, which killed the streak, and just looked like an annoying video-game playing on a big screen, but at the same time held some of the charm. Those three films were all done in consecutive years, from 2001 to 2003, and considering how tepid the critical reception was to the third one, it seemed as though that was it, Robert Rodriguez would make that his kiddie trilogy and call it a day. Not so fast, though, eight years later he decides to dust off the franchise, give it another go, make a fourth one, try to reboot it with new characters. And I think it’s a safe bet there won’t be a fifth entry in this franchise, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World is just a pretty bad movie.

The plot is just way boring, and the jokes with which it’s filled are just truly bad, most of them being about farts or poop, which are the signs that this film was only ever concerned with keeping the attention of those below the age of six. The first film was just so, so vivid and had so much style, with Robert Rodriguez delivering family-friendly entertainment that not only the kids would get a kick out of, and in this one it’s as though he was just done with all and wanted to make a buck; all of his films have a kind of homey charm to them, since he makes them pretty much on his own without much studio nuissance, and while that in the past translated to him just being free and inspired, this time around since he seemed bored, that meant a lot of boring poop jokes. And, if you’ll please pardon the horrible pun, it stinks.

This is, simply put, a movie that normally would have gone straight to DVD, not boring anyone with a theatrical release, even though it made nearly $75 million there, more than enough to cover its $27 million budget (it was released back in mid-August). The parents to the spies this time around aren’t Carla Gugino and Antonio Banderas, but instead Jessica Alba and Joel McHale. And look, Jessica Alba may be pretty (though she’s just okay to me) but Carla Gugino’s way better in that kind of role. And as much as I may love Joel McHale (bring Community back, NBC!) there was nothing remotely fresh about what he brought to the screen here. Which is kind of what this whole thing feels like, a cheap, knock-off version of the glory days in which this actually was one of the funnest kid-oriented franchises around. Now it’s just an ordinary run-of-the-mill kind of kid flick, scatological jokes included. And if you think I’m mentioning too often that there are poop jokes, I’m only doing it because the film spends even more time throwing them at us (sometimes literally, with a flying diaper).

My problem with Jessica Alba is that 99% of the time she’s just horribly miscast, the only times I’ve liked her in a role have been in Mr. Rodriguez’s Sin City where she played sweet Nancy Callahan and in James Cameron’s Dark Angel TV series which ran for two seasons on Fox and got her a Golden Globe nomination for playing Max Guevara, the show’s lead. Anyways, she’s still miscast here as pregnant superspy, who has two stepchildren unaware of her secret life, as well as a husband who hosts a show about catching spies for a living but also has no idea about her real identity, which makes him either super in love or quite dumb, you take your pick. But then we meet the supervillain who wants to take away all the time from the world, appropriately named The Timekeeper, played by Jeremy Piven, and then Alexa Vega, the original female spy kid now a top operative, comes along and asks the stepchildren to become the new spy kids. Oh, and there’s also a talking dob/robot thingie voiced by Ricky Gervais. Yawn.

It’s just all bad. I mean Ms. Vega as well as Daryl Sabara, her male counterpart on the original films, look just seriously awful trying to act as elite adult operatives. The new kids, while somewhat charming, are just way off and we don’t care about them. Ms. Alba and Mr. McHale, like I said, don’t have anything on Ms. Gugino and Mr. Banders. Ricky Gervais has a couple of funny lines as the dog, but you’re too busy thinking that this is below him. Jeremy Piven tries his best to show some kinetic energy to get this going, but it’s never enough. And Danny Trejo has a cameo here as Uncle Machete from the original films, and while that’s amusing, it’ll mostly make you wish Alan Cumming was back as Fegan Floop or Steve Buscemi as Romero.

I just really disliked what was done with a franchise I once quite liked with this fourth entry. The dumb dialogue, the poop jokes, the horrible puns The Timekeeper makes, nothing here works. What the villain of this film says in this film goes kind of like, “you have to go forward in time and not look back”, or something cliché like that. And, clichés aside, it would have been hearty advice for Mr. Rodriguez to take himself and apply onto this film that shouldn’t have been made in the first place, no matter how much fun it obviously was to come back and play in his favorite kiddie toybox (there’s even a scene in which props from the past three films are shown). Just, please, Mr. Rodriguez, for your next project focus on a second Sin City and not a fifth Spy Kids.

Grade: C-

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