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Hopes were not high coming into Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. It is the fourth movie in a franchise suffering from diminishing returns, plus it was using the stupid idea of smell-o-vision. And this family movie does not disappoint.
Marissa Wilson (Jessica Alba) is a top OSS spy who retires after capturing a super villain, Tik Tok, and starts a family with her husband Wilbur (Joel McHale) and stepchildren Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook). A year later a new villain has emerged, the Time Keeper, who speeds up time using the Armageddon Device to punish humanity for wasting time. Marissa is called back by the OSS director, Danger D’Amo (Jeremy Piven), to recapture Tik Tok which should lead them to the Time Keeper. But the Time Keeper sets out to kidnap Rebecca and Cecil because Rebecca has the only thing that could stop the Armageddon Device.
There are many problems with Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. It’s a cheap and unimaginative movie where you could easily predict how they would play out. We have seen these story elements so many times before: the dad is a workaholic; there is animosity between step-mum and step-daughter as the step-mum tries to get closer to the children; the revelation of a lie, and so many others. The humor is crude, mostly poo, fart and vomit gags, basically the lowest common denominator which most children will easily outgrow. The other major route of humor is the barrage of puns: time puns, dog puns and smell puns – we’re not stupid! The action is rudimentary; it is easy to expect much better from Robert Rodriguez who just uses poor CGI and quick cuts. And if you can’t guess who the Time Keeper really is then you haven’t seen enough movies. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World feels like it is a movie that is only made for a quick buck, not for any love of the material or the need to tell a good story.
A movie aimed at children should be able to enliven their imaginations: Spy Kids: All the Time in the World is not going to do that. The artificial CGI scenes just look too fake for children to accept and buy into the action and the basic predictable plot will mean that children will not love it. Adults and parents will feel nothing but suffering when watching this movie. This is just a mindless movie with no imagination, which is ironic considering it makes a point that children make better spies because they have more imagination. Children are smart; they ask questions, see plot holes and come up with ideas involving sci-fi concepts. The best family and children’s movies are clever, well-plotted affairs and often have good ideas behind them. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World does not share those traits. Plus this movie carries on the awful trend of spies with babies not working.
Most of the acting is sub-par. The child leads are bland and not natural actors; it’s your typical weak-child acting, and they are no Chloe Mortez or Kodi Smit-McPhee. McHale was truly unconvincing as the father and again a typical bad performance in a bad family movie. Alba was a punch bag for gags to be bounded off on. Ricky Gervais seemed to be having fun, but I’m sure that’s because he got a paycheck for saying bad lines in a recording studio. Piven is much the same, having fun and just being over the top.
As movie fans we expect better from Rodriguez, who’s done great movies like Sin City, From Dusk to Dawn and the “Mexico” Trilogy. Let’s hope he is doing this movie so we can finally get Sin City 2.
And I am sure you are asking the big question – what was the Scratch-and-Sniff card like? It was just a bunch of sickly sweet smells and simply just a gimmick. But you already knew that.
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World
Written and Directed by Robert Rodriguez.
Starring: Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook, Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven