Spy Kids

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This article is about the first film of the franchise. For the franchise, see Spy Kids (franchise).
Spy Kids
Spy kids.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Produced by Elizabeth Avellan
Robert Rodriguez
Written by Robert Rodriguez
Starring Antonio Banderas
Carla Gugino
Alan Cumming
Teri Hatcher
Cheech Marin
Danny Trejo
with Robert Patrick
and Tony Shalhoub
Alexa Vega
as 'Carmen'
Daryl Sabara
as 'Juni'
Music by John Debney
Danny Elfman
Los Lobos
Robert Rodriguez
Harry Gregson-Williams
Heitor Pereira
Gavin Greenaway
Cinematography Guillermo Navarro
Edited by Robert Rodriguez
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • March 30, 2001 (2001-03-30)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English, Spanish
Budget $35 million[1]
Box office $147,934,180[1]

Spy Kids (stylized as SPY kids) is a 2001 American/Mexican science fantasy family adventure film written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. It is the first installment in the Spy Kids series. Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara played the lead roles while Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alan Cumming, Teri Hatcher, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Robert Patrick and Tony Shalhoub appeared in supporting roles. The film was released in the United States on March 30, 2001 and on VHS and DVD on September 18, 2001.

Upon release, Spy Kids received positive reviews from critics[2] and became a commercial success by grossing over $147 million worldwide.[1]


12-year-old Carmen Cortez and her younger 9-year-old brother Juni Cortez live with their parents, Gregorio and Ingrid, whom they believe are boring, unaware that their parents are actually semi-retired international spies, working for an organization called the OSS (Organization of Super Spies, a reference to the Office of Strategic Services). Originally, Gregorio and Ingrid were enemies who were assigned to eliminate each other, but ended up falling in love and later got married. The two of them retired from the spy life prior to having children.

Carmen's main concern in life is with the unwelcome responsibility of babysitting Juni, and therefore she is usually mean to him. However, underneath her abusive exterior, Carmen is hiding secrets of her own: she skips school, and has to wear diapers at night due to having problems with bed wetting. She is desperate to keep both of these problems secret, especially from her brother. Juni lacks self-esteem and is a fan of a children's television show called "Floop's Fooglies." Hosted by Fegan Floop and co-starring the Fooglies—colorful, mutant, gibberish speaking friends of Floop—the show proves to be an irritant to Gregorio, who openly displays his dislike for the program. When he suspects the show is involved in the disappearance of several fellow spies, Gregorio and Ingrid decide to investigate and leave their children in the care of "Uncle" Felix Gumm, a man not actually their uncle but, rather, a family guardian. Gregorio and Ingrid are captured by Floop's men, Thumb-Thumbs, robots with thumbs for legs, arms and heads that wear red vests. Carmen and Juni discover the truth about their parents when they find that their parents have been kidnapped.

In Floop's island castle, the entertainer is reluctantly assisting a businessman named Mr. Lisp in creating an army of superstrong robots, using the children of world leaders as a disguise, to conquer the world. The robots were constructed by Floop's servant Alexander Minion. While the robots can follow instructions, they need an item named the Third Brain to give them the ability to speak and think to become truly useful as infiltrators. Gregorio and Ingrid were brought in, due to Gregorio being one of the scientists who created the Third Brain and hid it, although he refuses to give the hiding place. Floop's minions invade the Cortez home; Carmen and Juni escape while Felix is captured, but not before he tells the children the truth about their parents. The children flee to a safe house where they decide to become spies, until Ms. Gradenko, a fellow spy, arrives to help them. It is revealed that Third Brain is hidden in the house and that Gradenko is in allegiance with Lisp. The children escape but soon encounter robotic clones of themselves who steal the Third Brain and deliver it to Minion, who takes command of the robots and imprisons Floop in the Virtual Room where his show is usually filmed.

Carmen and Juni locate Gregorio's estranged older brother and inventor, Machete, who harbors bitter feelings against his younger brother, similar to the feelings Carmen harbored toward Juni; Machete was apparently forced to watch over Gregorio and left him because of this, and refuses to help the children. With no support from their uncle, the children sneak away to rescue their parents on their own, stealing a map of Floop's castle and a spy plane to get them there. Their sibling rivalry comes to a head, however, when Carmen's continuing criticisms and name-calling pushes Juni to retaliate by calling her "diaper lady," starting a quarrel that almost crashes the plane. As they work together to safely land the craft, Juni reveals that he had always been aware of Carmen's nighttime bedwetting, but kept that knowledge to himself at their mother's insistence. Having come to an understanding of each other as brother and sister, their relationship begins to improve from this point on.

The two make it to the castle and search for their parents. Juni finds Floop and frees him, convincing him to help them and explaining what was missing from his TV show- children. Carmen, Juni and Floop free Gregorio and Ingrid and then confront Minion, trapping him in a machine that creates the Fooglies on the children's show (who are actually the missing agents). Minion deliberately starts the machine but escapes before he becomes a Fooglie, altering his appearance with three extra heads and combined hands with multiple fingers. The spies confront Gradenko, Minion and Lisp and are confronted by their 500-man army of child robots. The family plots their next move while the evil trio marvels at the army, Gradenko looking the happiest of the three. When the family believes they need one more person, Machete arrives to help, later on claiming he came back for the same reason he left, meaning that he was told to watch over his brother. Just as Lisp orders the army to attack, Floop rewrites the children's minds to make them act like children. Despite Gradenko attempting to climb Lisp's chair for higher ground, she and her men are caught by the army.

Gradenko and her fellow bad guys end up getting carelessly flung into the air with no regard for the well-being of Gradenko, Lisp and Minion, but this saves the Cortez family. Gregorio and Machete reform their brotherly relationship, with both of them claiming neither of them even remembering why Machete left, and Floop redesigns his show with Minion and the robotic Carmen and Juni as his new characters. The leader of the OSS, Devlin, offers the Cortez children jobs as spies, to which Carmen responds that the spywork is easy, while keeping their Cortez family together is the hardest mission of all. Having adopted a stronger value of family unity, she demands that they be allowed to work together as a family.


Other cast members include Shannon Shea, Norman Cabrera and Trant Batey as Floops Fooglies (Flower, Tall and Skinny, and Too Too, respectively). Additionally, Evan Sabara, Daryl's fraternal twin, played a brief role in the film.


Spy Kids: Music from the Dimension Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released April 10, 2001
Genre Soundtrack, rock, pop
Length 31:03
Label Hollywood Records
Robert Rodriguez film soundtrack chronology
The Faculty
Spy Kids
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Filmtracks 3/5 stars
Music from the Movies 3.5/5 stars
SoundtrackNet 4/5 stars

The film score is written by John Debney and Danny Elfman, with contributions from a variety of others, including director Robert Rodriguez and Marcel Rodriguez. Among Elfman's contributions is "Floop's Song (Cruel World)", which is performed by Alan Cumming. Los Lobos covers the Tito Puente song, "Oye Como Va" (adapted as "Oye Como Spy" by David Garza and Robert Rodriguez). The song was nominated for "Outstanding Song in a Motion Picture Soundtrack" at the 2002 ALMA Awards. The closing theme, "Spy Kids (Save the World)", is performed by the Los Angeles indie pop band, Fonda.[3]

The score won an award at the ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Cortez Family" (Gavin Greenaway, Heitor Teixeira Pereira, Harry Gregson-Williams) – 1:39
  2. "My Parents Are Spies" (Danny Elfman) – 2:09
  3. "Spy Wedding" (Los Lobos, Robert Rodriguez) – 2:11
  4. "Spy Kids Demonstration" (John Debney, R. Rodriguez, Marcel Rodriguez) – 1:06
  5. "Parents on Mission" (Debney, Elfman, Greenaway, Pereira) – 1:17
  6. "Kids Escape House" (Greenaway, Pereira) – 3:14
  7. "Pod Chase" (Debney, Elfman, Gregson-Williams) – 1:38
  8. "The Safehouse" (Debney, Elfman) – 0:47
  9. "The Third Brain" (Debney, R. Rodriguez, M. Rodriguez) – 1:00
  10. "Buddy Pack Escape" (Elfman) – 1:39
  11. "Oye Como Spy" (Davíd Garza, Tito Puente, R. Rodriguez) – 2:59
    • Performed by Los Lobos
  12. "Floop's Song (Cruel World)" (Elfman) – 0:59
  13. "Spy Go Round" (Greenaway, Pereira, M. Rodriguez) – 2:11
  14. "Minion" (Chris Boardman, Greenaway, Pereira, R. Rodriguez) – 1:03
  15. "Sneaking Around Machetes" (Elfman) – 0:35
  16. "The Spy Plane" (Debney, Elfman) – 1:29
  17. "Floop's Castle" (Boardman) – 1:29
  18. "Final Family Theme" (Gregson-Williams) – 1:44
  19. "Spy Kids (Save the World)" Emily Cook, David Klotz, Dave Newton – 2:20

Release and reception[edit]

Spy Kids received high critical acclaim upon release. It currently scores a 93% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 7.2 out of 10. The site's critical consensus reads: "A kinetic and fun movie that's sure to thrill children of all ages."[2] It has a score of 71 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 27 reviews indicating "Generally favorable reviews".[4]

Roger Ebert gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars and called it "a treasure". He wrote, "Movies like "Spy Kids" are so rare. Families are often reduced to attending scatological dumber-and-dumbest movies like "See Spot Run"--movies that teach vulgarity as a value. "Spy Kids" is an intelligent, upbeat, happy movie that is not about the comedy of embarrassment, that does not have anybody rolling around in dog poop, that would rather find out what it can accomplish than what it can get away with."[5] Mick LaSelle of San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "It's entertaining and inoffensive, a rare combination in kids' films, which are usually neither."[6] Lael Loewenstein of Variety observed, "A full-blown fantasy-action adventure that also strenuously underscores the importance of family, "Spy Kids" is determined to take no prisoners in the under-12 demographic, a goal it sometimes dazzlingly achieves. Robert Rodriguez's film, in which two kids become real spies to save the world from a mad genius, fulfills kids' empowerment fantasies and features enough techno-wizardry and cool f/x to satisfy those weaned on videogames."[7]

Spy Kids grossed over $112,719,001 domestically and $35,215,179 overseas for a worldwide total of $147,934,180.[1]

A special edition with deleted scenes was released to theaters on August 8, 2001. It also was released with Kellogg's products. There were plans to release the special edition to DVD but it never materialized, despite the fact that a director's commentary and interviews were already recorded for it.[8]


Award Result Category Recipient
ALMA Award Won Outstanding Director in a Motion Picture Robert Rodriguez
Nominated Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Antonio Banderas
Outstanding Motion Picture Spy Kids
Outstanding Screenplay (Original or Adapted) Robert Rodriguez
Outstanding Song in a Motion Picture Soundtrack Los Lobos
For the song "Oye Como Spy"
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Won Top Box Office Films John Debney
Saturn Award Nominated Best Fantasy Film Spy Kids
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Nominated Best Family Film - Live Action Spy Kids
Kid's Choice Awards, USA Nominated Favorite Male Action Hero Antonio Banderas
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Nominated Best Family Film Spy Kids
Young Artist Awards Nominated Best Family Feature Film - Comedy Spy Kids
Best Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Young Actress Alexa Vega



  1. ^ a b c d "Spy Kids (2001) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Spy Kids OST". Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Spy Kids Reviews - Metacritic". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Review by Roger Ebert". Chicago Sun-Times. March 30, 2001. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  6. ^ Lasalle, Mick (March 30, 2001). "THE 'KIDS' ARE ALL RIGHT / Rodriguez makes delightful, imaginative action film a family affair". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Review (Variety)". Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Interview with Robert Rodriguez from LatinoReview". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 

External links[edit]