Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spy Kids 4: Waste of Time

I said a few reviews ago that all our great directors suck, which is kind of sad, but to my mind not as sad as all our young turks—the promising film-makers of 20 years ago—seem to have not matured into greatness but stay wallowing in the stuff that made them famous without adding any real polish or sophistication.

I've never been a Tarantino fan but when I express disappointment, everyone tells me to go back to Reservoir Dogs. I could make an exception for Kevin Smith, because he really tries to grow and change—and Red State is supposed to be good—but he says he's going to make one more movie (a hockey movie he's been working on for quite some time) and then retire.

Which brings us to Robert Rodriguez and Spy Kids: All The Time In The World. Rodriguez is one of these guys who acquired his skills through tons of time behind a video camera. His movies have always been fast-paced, a little chaotic, and also kind of sloppy and poorly thought out. He usually overwhelmed his shortcomings with style, but the style is played out a bit.

Sin City may be his best movie, simply because so much was laid out in the comic book and he could follow it (and made the choice to follow it) so closely.

In some ways, the Spy Kids series is the ultimate expression of Rodriguez' style. It doesn't have to make any sense as long as it looks cool, any situation can be resolved with CGI, and there's no limit on how ham-handed you can make your pro-family-time message.

The Flower refused to go see this, with her point being that they just kept getting worse and worse. She's not wrong. (The Barb doesn't really care as long as the popcorn keeps flowing, but I couldn't get more of a "pretty good" out of her.)

This time around, it's Jessica Alba in the maternal role. The story goes that Rodriguez was on the set of Machete when Alba's one-year-old let off a diaper bomb and he thought, "Yeah! Mommy spy with baby bombs!" Or maybe, since the Spy Kid franchise has been far-and-away his biggest hits, he just was looking for an excuse to bring it back after eight years.

Alba plays stepmother to two new kids, a gentle hard-of-hearing boy and his really bitchy sister. I thought the sister was older, and maybe she's supposed to be, but the boy actor is actually a little older than the girl. (The actors, Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook, are fine; the characters are who Rodriguez made them.) Mom is dead, and Alba has to pay, apparently.

Alba's also an ex-spy who's given up her career to raise her baby with Joel McHale, who's a doofus-y TV personality.

Meh. I've already lost interest in explaining it. None of it really matters. It's just a big mess comprised of smaller messes. There's a whole lot of insulting stupid, even for a Spy Kids movie.

Jeremy Piven has a fun role as head of the OSS, who's doing a fast-talking '40s thing. The original kids are back and all grown up. Vega is a hottie now, and Sabara has gotten even odder looking; but even here Rodriguez is just rehashing the same old themes. You know, how many times do these people have to re-learn their family values before they stick?

Oh, Ricky Gervais is the voice of a robotic dog. The English whore.

I've already said "meh" and I don't want to say it again, because this is not a two "meh" movie.


  1. Has there ever been a Number 4 movie that was any good?

  2. Critters 4?


    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?

    The thing about sequels is that typically as they go on, the original talent moves on. But in this case, it's still all Rodriguez. (Except he didn't edited it, for the first time in his movie career.)

    I dunno. The hardest thing to find in a movie career seems to be consistent high quality. Hitchcock's about as close as I've found.


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