Robert Rodriguez couldn’t care whether or not you’ve actually seen the first installment of Spy Kids; if you’re a newbie heading into Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, you may wonder how Alan Cumming’s Fegan Floop fits into this magical mystery tour. No matter, the rest is easy riding. Carmen Cortez (Alexa Vega) and her younger brother Juni (Daryl Sabara) hope to spare the world from a major energy crisis, making their way to the film’s titular island of lost dreams where they encounter mutant animals and their reclusive scientist creator (Steve Buscemi). If the gadgets are noticeably on overdrive during the film’s first half, there’s a good reason: once the Cortez kids reach their island destination, their toys are rendered mute by a top-secret device. Carmen is every bit as strong as Juni though her crush on the meddlesome Gary Giggles (Matthew O’Leary) does seem to dull her senses. If the Latino empowerment Rodriguez parades on-screen seems refreshing, the accompanying machismo shouldn’t come as a surprise. Though Gary compromises Juni’s journey at every turn, Carmen still stands by her man (“I think I can change him,” she says). Rodriguez, though, might suggest that this weak behavior could be traced back to Carmen and Juni’s traditionalist grandparents (delightfully played by Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor). The OSS dinner sequence that ends in disaster begins with a saucy dance number and closes with an invasion of men-as-toy-soldiers as lively as anything you’d find in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. A duel between a snake creature and a “spider monkey” is a nostalgia trip back to the days of Clash of the Titans. By film’s end, it’s clear that family values are every bit as important to this kiddie empowerment saga as the inventiveness of its gizmos.
- Robert Rodriguez
- Robert Rodriguez
- Daryl Sabara, Alexa Vega, Antonio Banderas, Ingrid Cortez, Steve Buscemi, Mike Judge, Taylor Momsen, Ricardo Montalban, Holland Taylor, Emily Osment, Matthew O'Leary, Cheech Marin