SPY KIDS (2001), in which two youngsters learn their boring parents are really retired super spies, was an unexpected delight. This sequel is way too big for its britches, and if it were all as loud and ridiculous as its grab 'em and shake 'em opening sequence, it would be awful. Fortunately, it settles down when newly-minted teen Carmen (Alexa Vega) and nine-year-old brother Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara) get to the titular island, a volcanic speck located in the Bermuda Triangle and filled with Ray Harryhausen-esque creatures. As the story begins, Carmen and Juni, the OSS school's most celebrated junior agents, are rudely eclipsed by bratty blondies Gerti (Emily Osment, sister of Haley Joel) and Gary Giggles (Matt O'Leary), when the president's cutie-pie daughter (Taylor Momsen) needs rescuing at an extreme amusement park. "A spy is only as good as his gadgets," sneers adolescent dreamboat Gary, and Carmen's heart goes pitter-pat. But Gary's dad, Donnagon Giggles (animator Mike Judge of Beavis and Butthead fame), is competing with Carmen's dashing father, Gregorio Cortez (Antonio Banderas), for a big promotion at the agency, and the Giggleses show their true colors at a swanky agency soiree: Donnagon nabs the director's gig and Gary gets Juni expelled. And as if things weren't rocky enough, chez Cortez, coolest-mom-ever Ingrid (Carla Gugino) has invited her parents (Holland Taylor, Ricardo Montalban) to visit. Or perhaps more accurately, she's acquiesced to their visit. They're a force with which to be reckoned, and wouldn't you know it, they're retired spies, too. Itching to prove themselves, Carmen and Juni snatch a prime case out from under Gary and Gertie's upturned noses and decamp for mysterious Ukata Island. Their gizmos disabled by the island's magnetic field, Carmen and Juni must rely on their wits to deal with a mad geneticist (Steve Buscemi) and his creations, the aforementioned Harryhausen hommages: slinky "slizzards," (snaky necked lizards), a monkey with spider legs ("spider monkey") and a passel of pugnacious skeletons. One of the most charming things about the film is that it delivers its family values message with considerable affection and utter conviction, even though the older Cortezes are reduced to minor supporting players — inventive Uncle Izzy's (Danny Trejo) role is little more than a cameo. But there's way too much CGI gadgetry, some inventive, much simply flashy in the worst kind of video-game way. The kids are nearly lost in the glitz.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: PG
- Review: SPY KIDS (2001), in which two youngsters learn their boring parents are really retired super spies, was an unexpected delight. This sequel is way too big for its britches, and if it were all as loud and ridiculous as its grab 'em and shake 'em opening sequ… (more)
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