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Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby
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(c) Dimension Films
Mi Familia es Espia
"Once upon a time there was a celebrated master spy, as cunning as she was beautiful. Her Mission: assassinate a rival secret agent. Her target: a suave super sleuth, as dangerous as he was dashing. When their eyes met, guns were not drawn, hearts were broken. A passionate love was born that day and they were soon wed. But the wedding celebration was interrupted by evil arch villains, intent on destroying the happy couple, who were even more powerful together than apart. In order to survive, they were forced to retire from the active spy game. Eventually, a daughter and son were born and they all settled into domestic bliss, the perfect family, living happily, if not excitingly, ever after ... "
With this opening flashback, giddy in it's childlike vision of a thrillingly romantic espionage escapade, the stage is set for Spy Kids, the first family film released by Dimension Films, the genre subsidiary (responsible for such hits as the Scream trilogy and it's spoofy take-off Scary Movie) of Miramax Films, itself owned by the Walt Disney Company.
Comfortable in their square suburban existence, former sleuths Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez (Antonio Banderas, Carl Gugino) spend their days worrying about their children, Carmen and Juni (Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara), and their nights as covert cloak and dagger consultants. As the kids are facing typical school-age problems (bullies, peer pressure), Mr. and Mrs. Cortez are called back into active service when former comrades start mysteriously disappearing. Being a tad rusty back out in the field, they uncover too late an even more sinister plot in motion and are quickly captured. Meanwhile, back at Casa de Cortez, Carmen and Juni discover that not only are mom and dad international spies, but that it is up to them to go to the rescue.
With an arsenal of nifty cool gadgets at their disposal, they must overcome sibling squabbles, double agents, condescending adults and an outrageous villain bent on no less then world domination. (As if a villain in such an over-the-top fantasy such as this would aspire to anything less.)
(c) Dimension Films
Like a megamaniacal Pee-Wee Herman, Tony Award-winning Broadway actor Alan Cumming plays Fagin Floop (note the nod to Dickens' classic Pied Piper figure), host of an insanely popular kiddie TV show who's trippy visuals and Toys 'R Us-ready creatures (think an even more hyped-up Telletubbies) is a front to control innocent young minds all over the globe. (Hmm ... I wonder if this explains the oddly appealing nature of Barney the Dinosaur ... ) He is in the process of creating an army of robot children, the "spy kids" of the title. With blank expressions, mop tops and aluminum Battlestar Galactica fashions, they are Children of the Damned for the digital age.
(Floop's secret lair, home to his television studios and mad scientist labs, is a twisted seaside castle that appears to be designed by the architectural firm of Burton, Dahl and Geisel.)
While the basic premise is quite simple (one wonders why no one has contemplated such a high concept before: James Bond Junior!), the film distinguishes itself with it's sly allusions to spy movies of the past. For example, Floop's minion goes by the name "Minion" and the femme fatale is played by former Bond girl Teri Hatcher.