tek's rating: ½

Spy Kids (PG)
IMDb; Miramax; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikia; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Paramount+; Vudu; YouTube

Caution: potential spoilers.

This came out in 2001, and I'm sure I must have seen it on TV or something in the early 2000s. But I didn't remember anything specific about the plot by the time I watched it on DVD in 2021. It's a reasonably fun movie with a great cast, but a lot of it I found too corny or goofy to like it quite as much as I wanted to. Definitely liked it, though.

So, there are these two kids, Carmen Cortez (Alexa Vega) and her younger brother, Juni. Their mother, Ingrid (Carla Gugino), tells them a bedtime story about two rival spies who were assigned to kill each other, but instead they fell in love, got married, had kids, and quit being spies. It should come as no surprise to anyone but the kids in the movie that the story was in fact about Ingrid and her husband, Gregorio (Antonio Banderas). And one day, they get called back into service to investigate the disappearance of some other spies, who worked for the OSS. (Wikipedia tells me that stands for "Organization of Super Spies", but I'm pretty sure that name was never mentioned in the movie.) It seems a bit weird to me that apparently both Ingrid and Gregorio had both worked for the OSS at some point in the past. In fact it's never mentioned which countries each of them originally worked for, but I'm guessing that Gregorio was the one who originally worked for the OSS and Ingrid defected to that side, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, they end up being captured by the bad guy, Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming), who also hosts a very strange children's TV show that Juni watches all the time. The missing spies had been mutated into weird creatures who are part of the show, against their will. There are also things called "Thumb-Thumbs," whose limbs and head are all thumbs, that work both on the show and as security guards for Floop. Floop also has a minion named Minion (Tony Shalhoub), who has all the ideas for the things that Floop invents. Their latest creation is an army of androids who are made to look like the children of various world leaders and such. But while they're very strong and can follow simple commands, they can't speak or think, really, because they still need artificial brains, the prototype of which is in Gregorio's possession, at a safe house. The army is being built to for someone named Mr. Lisp (Robert Patrick), who is displeased with Floop's previous work. Oh, and the army of android children are referred to as "spy kids", but despite that I think it's safe to say the movie's title refers to Carmen and Juni, not the robots.

After the elder Cortezes are captured, Carmen and Juni's uncle Felix (Cheech Marin) tells the kids that he's not actually their uncle, but had been assigned to protect the family after their parents retired from spying. He sends them off to a the safe house, but they're pursued by goons (both humans and Thumb-Thumbs). Later, an OSS agent and friend of their parents named Ms. Gradenko (Teri Hatcher) shows up to help them, and learns about the "third brain", which is what the androids require to reach full functionality. But it turns out Gradenko is a double agent working for Floop, and the kids once again have to escape, taking the third brain with them. They're later pursued by android duplicates of themselves, who steal the brain. Meanwhile, Carmen and Juni still want to find and rescue their parents, and they get some grudging help from their real uncle, Gregorio's estranged brother Izzy "Machete" Cortez (Danny Trejo), who invents all sorts of spy gadgets. (There's a later series of movies featuring Machete, which I haven't seen, but would like to. While watching the movie, I found the nickname ironic, because I knew Trejo would later play a character with the same name. But Wikipedia informs me that it's actually the same character, which I never would have guessed, because those movies definitely aren't for kids.)

Well, I feel like I've said too much already, but I'm still leaving a lot out, and I don't want to say any more about the plot, which has some twists. Of course the good guys eventually win, though. And the director of the OSS, Devlin (George Clooney), calls on the Cortez family for another mission. Oh, and there's a brief scene after the closing credits, but it seemed completely pointless to me because unless I blinked and missed something, it had no characters and no activity of any kind. That was just weird.

Followed by Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams

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