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Smell You Later: Slapstick Silliness And Obvious Humor Introduce A New Generation Of Spy Kids
on November 22, 2011
Director Robert Rodriguez seems determined to keep the "Spy Kids" franchise alive at all costs. "Spy Kids: All The Time In The World" is essentially a reboot as opposed to a true sequel as it launches viewers upon the adventures of a new central family. Yes, original kids Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara are on hand as grown counterparts of themselves, but it feels as if they are passing the torch to the younger generation. While this, the fourth in the series, has much of the visual inventiveness you've come to appreciate from Rodriguez, it does lack some of the easy charm of the first couple of pictures. Trading cleverness for obvious humor, though, has its drawbacks. Thankfully, on on-demand, we are spared the theater's Aroma-Scope scratch cards that surely promised a plethora of unpleasant smells. (For the record, I liked it when John Waters did it, but that was a different story entirely). The movie plays to a certain demographic--if you think passing gas, vomit, and other bodily emissions are hysterical, this might be just up your alley. I always hear the argument "but the movie is for kids" when people are defending entertainment of this type, but the point seems rather irrelevant when you think of all the good kids' movies with genuine smarts.
Jessica Alba plays Vega and Sabara's aunt. She, too, is a spy. Upon giving birth to her daughter, she decides to quit this dangerous occupation to focus on her new baby, husband (Joel McHale), and step kids (Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook). However, when a nefarious mastermind starts moving time forward at an alarming rate--the fate of the very world is in jeopardy. She has had prior dealings with another criminal who holds the key to this mystery, so she is drafted back into service. This being "Spy Kids," though, Blanchard and Cook are soon up to their little necks in danger as well. Will these darn kids be able to save humankind? I won't ruin the surprise. Jeremy Piven is cast as Alba's superior at the agency, and Ricky Gervais provides unusual support. Everyone is game and, as I said, certain visuals are fun to watch. But that being the case, I found most of the actual humor forced and flat. There are only so many times passing gas can effectively be used as a punchline!
The movie, despite its slapstick silliness, wants to have its share of warm moments as well with the family drawing closer. I never really responded to Blanchard, though, who needed more discipline than understanding. I love Jeremy Piven, who despite having a large role, is never given any real comedy. And Gervais, to my mind, is a comic genius but his running monologue is uninspired and obvious. All the elements were here to make a good picture, I even liked the plot well enough--the screenplay just needed that extra push to make it more fun and funnier. Mostly for the kids, I can't really make this much of a recommendation. It's easy enough to watch (since I didn't have to smell it), I just wanted to laugh along. Overall, about 2 1/2 stars but I'll round up for the kiddies. KGHarris, 11/11.