Spy Kids review
I was sort of roped into rewatching the original Spy Kids recently (I didn't intend to watch it but my family turned it on in the main room and I ended up watching it). To my astonishment, it is a genuinely good movie. I think you should watch it and so I'll try to spoiler the review.
Of course, I have criticisms, so I'll start with those:
- I wish the parents had gotten less deglorification. I get that it's a kids movie, but it wasn't necessary to have the adults get captured three separate times and contribute almost nothing to the victory and have another character state in the end that the kids are "the most incredible agents we've ever seen".
Glorifying a character
- The scene where Carmen and Juni fight half a dozen trained agents and more or less win is ridiculous. I get that they're cool kids but they shouldn't be capable of combat feats that their parents aren't. And the competence downgrade they got for the scene where they fight the robot kids was laughable.
- It's a Deus Ex Machina how Juni gets Floop out of the virtual room. It wouldn't have been hard to handwave, I just wanted to hear that the virtual room's imprisonment depends on something in the brain that the gumball thing's electric shock resets.
And now the praise:
- The beginning of the movie is really well-done and hilarious. When I was being introduced to the family, I couldn't decide which member I loathed the least. Ingrid and Gregorio are keeping secrets, not only from their kids but even from each other, while Carmen is an asshole to Juni and Juni seems to a very slothful person who spends all his time on recreation (his parents claim that watching Floop's show is "all he ever does"). But I ended up rooting for them anyway. And the scene in the beginning where Gregorio daydreams about throwing the other kid's dad through the window was amazing.
- This movie really understands how to do heroes' arcs. Five different characters have one and they're all good and believable. Carmen and Juni learn to appreciate each other more by being through shit together (and you can see this unfolding gradually when Juni places the cameras in the hall and Carmen and he exchange a compliment and a thanks), their parents stop keeping secrets after seeing where it got them, and Machete is moved by the kids' courage and learns to care about his brother again, even though he doesn't like having to "be responsible for Gregorio".
- The movie is great with foreshadowing and callbacks. The TV show Juni is obsessed with is of course a plot device. Carmen's rant in the beginning is directly used against her by Machete when he refuses to help them, showing her the error of her ways. The cash from the safehouse is used to buy disguises. Carmen's continuing insulting of Juni and his seemingly empty threat of retaliation come to an incredibly satisfying conclusion in the plane scene where it's revealed that Carmen is the one who wears diapers.
- I really want to praise the implication that after the movie, the kids are going to become official OSS agents and the parents are okay with that. These parents understood that you have to let someone use their potential, have agency. Most movies would be afraid to suggest that kids in danger is *not* a fundamentally wrong state of affairs that should be prevented regardless of the kids' capability or consent.
Prime value of agency
And while the ending of the movie where the entire family crowds around the camera and Carmen directly preaches the moral of the story to the audience is stupid, you gotta give it some slack for being a kids' movie. At least the moral they chose to preach wasn't outright wrong.
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