Spy Kids (franchise)

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Spy Kids
SpyKidsSeries-DVD.jpg
DVD box set of the four films
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Produced by Robert Rodriguez
Elizabeth Avellan
Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Written by Robert Rodriguez
Starring Alexa Vega
Daryl Sabara
Rowan Blanchard
Mason Cook
Antonio Banderas
Carla Gugino
Jessica Alba
Joel McHale
Production
company
Distributed by Miramax Film Corp (1-3)
The Weinstein Company (4)
Release dates 2001 – present
Running time 358 minutes
Country United States
Mexico
Language English
Spanish
Budget $154 million (all four movies)
Box office $550,269,520 (all four movies)[1]

The Spy Kids series consists of four American/Mexican family action films written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. The main plot follows the adventures of two Cortez children (portrayed by Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara) who become involved in their parents' espionage. The rest of their family are also spies as well, including their estranged uncle Machete and maternal grandparents. The films tend to have a strong Hispanic heritage theme, as Rodriguez is of Mexican descent.[2]

Plot[edit]

Prologue[edit]

Ten years before the first film, there was a period of enormous political turmoil. Fearless agents were recruited for espionage missions against enemy spies. Gregorio Cortez and Ingrid Avellan (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) were enemy spies assigned to kill each other, but instead they fell in love and married. After an atypical wedding, Gregorio and Ingrid took a break from espionage and started a family.

Spy Kids (2001)[edit]

Main article: Spy Kids

After retiring from espionage for ten years, Gregorio and Ingrid are pulled back into duty for their important assignment despite the fact they were out of practice, and were captured. Their two children, Carmen and Juni (Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara), discover the truth of their parents' past, which they had neglected to tell them because they were afraid that if they knew, they would picture danger at every corner; and decide to rescue them. On their first mission, Carmen and Juni manage to bring around their estranged uncle, Machete (Danny Trejo), a genius gadget inventor and Juni helps to redeem Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming). Together, Carmen and Juni thwart the plan of Alexander Minion (Tony Shalhoub) to develop an army of androids resembling young children for a mastermind named Mr. Lisp (Robert Patrick) and his partner Ms. Gradenko (Teri Hatcher). The robots based on Carmen and Juni became part of Floop's show.

Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (2002)[edit]

As agents of the OSS, Carmen and Juni face a particularly hard competition with Gary and Gerti Giggles (Matt O'Leary and Emily Osment), the two children of a double-dealing agent Donnagon Giggles (Mike Judge), whom Carmen and Juni helped to rescue them from the first film. Juni gets fired from the OSS after fighting with Gary over a smaller version of the transmooker, a device that can shut off all electronic devices even though it was Gary who started the fight. Juni loses his spot for the best spy kid of the year award, while Donnagon plans to steal the transmooker to take over the world. On their second mission, Carmen and Juni follow the trail to the mysterious island of Liki-Liki which is home to Romero (Steve Buscemi), an eccentric scientist who attempted to create genetically-miniaturised animals, but instead ended up with his island inhabited by mutant monsters. Eventually, Donnagon is fired and Gary is suspended, and the transmooker is destroyed. Juni is offered his job back, but in order to take a break from the OSS, he retires to start his own private eye agency.

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003)[edit]

After retiring from the OSS, Juni is thrust back into service when an evil mastermind named Sebastian the Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone) creates a fictional video game called Game Over, which hypnotizes its users. Carmen was sent on a mission to disable the game, but disappeared on Level 4. With the help of his maternal grandfather, Valentin Avellan (Ricardo Montalban), who uses a wheelchair, Juni is sent after Carmen and helps her to disable the game in order to save the world. It is revealed that Sebastian was the one who disabled Valentin in the first place. Instead of avenging his former partner, Valentin forgives Sebastian who is redeemed.

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (2011)[edit]

The OSS has become the world's top spy agency, while the Spy Kids department has become defunct. A retired spy Marissa (Jessica Alba) is thrown back into the action along with her two stepchildren, Rebecca and Cecil (Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook), when a maniacal Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) attempts to take over the world. In order to save the world, Rebecca and Cecil must team up with Marissa. Carmen and Juni have All Grown Up and will provide gadgets to Rebecca and Cecil; Juni comes out of retirement to do so.[3]

Cancelled fifth film[edit]

Dimension Films announced in February 2012 that Spy Kids 5 was under talks with the original cast expected to return with an unknown (even prospective) release date.[4] The sequel was delayed from a 2012 production.

Cast and characters[edit]

List indicator(s)
  • Italics indicate a cameo
  • A dark grey cell indicates the character did not appear in the film
Character Film
Spy Kids Island of Lost Dreams Game Over All the Time in the World
Carmen Cortez Alexa Vega
Addisyn Fair (infant)
Alexa Vega
Juni Cortez Daryl Sabara
Gregorio Cortez Antonio Banderas Antonio Banderas (Shown in deleted scenes)
Isador "Machete" Cortez Danny Trejo
Fegan Floop Alan Cumming
Alexander Minion Tony Shalhoub
Ingrid Cortez Carla Gugino
Felix Gumm Cheech Marin
Donnagon Giggles Mike Judge
Gary Giggles   Matt O'Leary
Gerti Giggles   Emily Osment  
Valentin Avellan   Ricardo Montalban  
Helga Avellan   Holland Taylor  
Romero   Steve Buscemi  
Dinky Winks   Bill Paxton  
Devlin George Clooney   George Clooney  
Mr. Lisp Robert Patrick  
Ms. Gradenko Teri Hatcher  
Alexandra   Taylor Momsen  
The President of the United States   Christopher McDonald  
The Toymaker   Sylvester Stallone  
Francesca "Cesca" Giggles   Salma Hayek  
Demetra   Courtney Jines  
Arnold   Ryan Pinkston  
Francis   Bobby Edner  
Rez   Robert Vito  
The Guy   Elijah Wood  
Rebecca Wilson   Rowan Blanchard
Cecil Wilson   Mason Cook
Marissa Wilson   Jessica Alba
Wilbur Wilson   Joel McHale
The Timekeeper   Jeremy Piven

Crew[edit]

Film Director Producer Writer Composer Editor Cinematographer
Spy Kids Robert Rodriguez Robert Rodriguez
Elizabeth Avellan
Robert Rodriguez Harry Gregson-Williams
Gavin Greenaway
Heitor Pereira
Robert Rodriguez
John Debney
Danny Elfman
Los Lobos
Robert Rodriguez Guillermo Navarro
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams Robert Rodriguez
John Debney
Robert Rodriguez
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over Robert Rodriguez
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World Robert Rodriguez
Carl Thiel
Robert Rodriguez
Jimmy Lindsey
Dan Zimmerman

Background and production[edit]

Influences[edit]

Spy Kids was heavily influenced by James Bond films. Director Robert Rodriguez says the first film was the "Willy Wonka and James Bond mix" and the second was the "Mysterious Island and James Bond mix"; by this pattern the third film could be described as the "Tron and James Bond mix". Technology in the films is almost always portrayed as looking friendly, and a bit cartoonish.

The spy organization featured in the films is called the OSS. The initials seem to have been derived from the Office of Strategic Services, a former American intelligence organization during WWII which later evolved into the CIA. Note there is a character named Donnagon Giggles, after William Joseph Donovan, the director of the real OSS.[citation needed] What the initials stand for in the Spy Kids universe is never specified on screen, but, according to one of the books, they stand for the Organization of Super Spies.

Themes[edit]

One of the chief themes of Spy Kids is the unity of family. The films also play with the idea of children having adult responsibilities, and how keeping secrets from family members can have a negative effect on relationships. The first film also deals extensively with sibling rivalry and the responsibility of older children. It also has a strong sense of Hispanic heritage.

Technical innovations[edit]

The second and third films were shot with High Definition digital video, parts of the third film using an anaglyphic process to create the 3-D effects. Audiences were given red/blue glasses with their ticket purchase in movie theatres. Four sets of these glasses were also included in the DVD release. The third film was also used as a test for a special Texas Instruments digital projector which is supposed to be able to project polarized 3D, a process that does not require the red-blue lenses.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The first film was a surprise hit, opening with $26.5 million and grossing a total of $112.7 million USD in North America and $35.2 million over-seas. The second film had a disappointing but still strong opening weekend of $16.7 million and a total of $25 million since its Wednesday launch. Overall, it grossed $85.8 million in North America and $33.8 million overseas. The third film opened with a surprising $33.4 million, but didn't quite live up to the first "Spy Kids" total gross. In the end, it grossed $111 million in North America. However, its over-seas gross was double either of the first two "Spy Kids" at $85.3 million. Altogether, the "Spy Kids" trilogy grossed over $450 million worldwide.

Critical reception[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes
Spy Kids 93% (123 reviews)[5]
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams 74% (129 reviews)[6]
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over 45% (135 reviews)[7]
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 22% (56 reviews)[8]

DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases[edit]

  • September 28, 2001 (Spy Kids) on DVD by Disney
  • February 18, 2003 (Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams) on DVD by Disney
  • February 24, 2004 (Spy Kids 3D: Game Over) on DVD by Disney
  • August 2, 2011 (Spy Kids, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over) on DVD and Blu-ray Disc by Lionsgate (However, all 3 DVDs are still the Disney ones.)
  • November 22, 2011 ("Spy Kids: All the Time in the World") on DVD and Blu-ray by Anchor Bay Entertainment
  • December 4, 2012 (Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D 3D Double Feature) on Blu-ray 3D Disc by Lionsgate

Soundtracks[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Walt Disney Company had to cut their own share on the fourth film with The Weinstein Company to 5% after the latter party lost their bid to reclaim Miramax Films.[9]

References[edit]