I can't say I've avidly watched the Spy Kids series, but I've seen snippets, I think I sat through the entirety of the first and left feeling like a ruined man. But it's made by Robert Rodriguez, he knows what he's doing, and he knows what his kids want, so kudos to him for making kiddie fare alongside his massively violent grindhouse features.
I was a little excited about Spy Kids 4 being delivered at work though. I've had a 3D TV since August, and I had yet to watch an obnoxiously in your face 3D movie. I've seen the awesome depth work of Disney and Pixar, the lacklustre post-production conversion of mediocre Hollywood action movies, but nothing with stuff flying out at my face. Also this is in 4D, which means it comes with a scented card, the numbers of which you rub as they appear on screen. It's like we're in the early 90s all over again, but the 3D is more advanced. The smell technology, however, is not.
I won't go too much into the plot, because really it doesn't matter. It's nonsensical, and it knows it is, because it spends no time explaining itself, and more says "this is the way things are, now just watch these kids using cool gadgets and taling to a robot dog". In short, there's a supervillain called The Timekeeper, and his accomplice Tick Tock, who have a device which is stealing time somehow, and time is speeding up somehow, which also means the world will run out of time somehow. Jessica Alba plays a retired spy who is forced to go back for another mission, her year old baby in tow, and Joel McHale plays the unwitting father, who is trying to launch a TV show in which he hunts spies. Ironic, right? The kids, of course, are thrust into the spy role, and end up having to save the day.
To be honest, I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. Once you just accept that the plot is nonsensical, and everything is just over the top and stupid, you begin to see how self aware the whole thing is. The characters just breeze through everything, accepting these ridiculous situations for what they are, and the one liners they crack are often hilarious, especially coming from Argonaut the robot dog, voiced by Ricky Gervais. The kids are great in their roles, encapsulating the personality traits of their characters brilliantly, and in fact everyone just seems to be having a great time. Even the original Spy Kids make an appearance, which probably goes to show that they had a great time making the first three.
The 3D effects are pretty damn good. There's stuff flying out all over the place, various particles flying around the screen, and the depth effect work well. Where it all kinda falls down is with the Aroma-Scope card. It's a neat idea, with different scents for bacon and candy, but there are also numbers that correspond to two different types of fart, and when you go to smell them, they don't particularly smell bad. I know I've been around baby poop long enough to become acclimatised to it, bur I still think it smells pretty bad. Again, the whole idea is something that will appeal to kids, and I guess that's the point of this movie.
Spy Kids is not bad. Despite me hating the first movie so much, I'm tempted to go back and watch the first three to see if I still feel the same. Certainly Spy Kids 4 is not a fantastic piece of cinema, it's all over the place plot wise, and focuses mainly on the visual effects, but I had some laughs while watching it.
My rating: 3/5