Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Written by:Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Steve Buscemi, Matt O’Leary, Emily Osment
Released: January 9, 2003
Grade: B

Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Spy Kids was a stunning box-office success and you know what that means, don’t you? Sequel! The original was good fun and despite not fitting into the studios target audience (i.e. kids), I’m still happy to report the follow-up is equally as good, if not better.

The enjoyment factor comes from the largely young cast. No adults wasting precious screen time. In addition to our two small heroes, Carmen (Vega) and Juni (Sabara), we have two new kids who serve as their arch rivals, Gary (O’Leary) and Gerti (Osment). It all leads to a more expanded plot with better adventure.

This time around, a powerful weapon known as the transmooker device has been stolen from the president’s grasp. The device can disenable any technological instrument and is a vital tool for anyone wishing to take over the world. Because their father is the head of the OSS, Gary and Gerti are given level 1 priority and the mission to rescue the transmooker. Carmen and Juni aren’t impressed and crack the OSS computer system, swap missions, and head off themselves on this daring assignment.

They travel to a mysterious island inhabited by dangerously mutated animals. There they meet Dr. Romero (Buscemi), the mad scientist responsible for the island’s creatures, but he’s not the man they’re after. Learning they have been deceived, Gary and Gerti soon reach the island themselves and it becomes a battle of two spy teams seeing who can crack the case first. The answer is a lot closer to home than they imagined…

The special effects are second-rate, and the storyline lacks the depth of a Harry Potter, but it’s definitely an action-packed adventure ride that kids will eat up. There’s plenty going on and things are kept funny and simple. It’s like a miniature version of James Bond (without the scantily clad women).

For adults being dragged along by their kids to this movie, Steve Buscemi adds comic relief. He’s funny everytime I see him on screen and whilst this isn’t a film you’ll see in a “best of” collection, it’s vintage Buscemi. There are quite a few second-tier stars that you’ll also recognise but this film is about the kids and they deserve the attention with their youthful fun-loving attitude. Note also that the actress playing Gerti, Emily Osment, is the younger sister of Haley Joel Osment who wowed us in The Sixth Sense and Artificial Intelligence.

With a few weeks of the school holidays remaining, there’s no need to groan too loudly when the kids ask to see Spy Kids 2. You may not be as running up and down the aisle, but at least your kids will.