Spy Kids (franchise)

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Spy Kids
DVD box set of the four films
Created byRobert Rodriguez
Original workSpy Kids (2001)
Owned byTroublemaker Studios
Print publications
Book(s)Junior Novelizations (first three movies)
Spy Kids Adventures series
Films and television
Animated seriesSpy Kids: Mission Critical (2018)
  • Spy Kids Challenger (Game Boy Advance)
  • Spy Kids Mega Mission Zone (PC/Mac)
  • Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (Game Boy Advance and PC/Mac)
  • Spy Kids: Learning Adventures series (PC/Mac)
  • Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (Nintendo DS)
  • Spy Kids
  • Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams
  • Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over
  • Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

Spy Kids is an American spy adventure comedy family film series created by Robert Rodriguez. The main series follows the adventures of Carmen and Juni Cortez, two children who become involved in their parents' espionage. The rest of their family are spies as well, including their maternal grandparents, and estranged uncle Machete. The films tend to have a strong Latino theme, as Rodriguez is of Mexican descent.[1]



Spy Kids was influenced by James Bond films. Director Robert Rodriguez says the first film was "Willy Wonka-meets-James Bond"[2] and the second was the "Mysterious Island and James Bond mix". Technology in the films is 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 U.S. intelligence organization during World War II which later evolved into the CIA. Note there is a character named Donnagon Giggles, after William Joseph Donovan, the director of the real OSS.[3] What the initials stand for in the Spy Kids universe is not specified on screen, but, according to one of the books, they stand for the Organization of Super Spies.


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 Latino heritage.

Technical innovations[edit]

The other films were shot with High Definition digital video,[4] 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.


Spy Kids (2001)[edit]

After retiring from espionage for ten years, Gregorio and Ingrid (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) 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), stay with their uncle Felix Gumm (Cheech Marin) and 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, Isador "Machete" Cortez (Danny Trejo), a genius gadget inventor and Juni helps to redeem a tv show host named Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming). Together, Carmen and Juni thwart the plan of Floop's notorious second in-command Alexander Minion (Tony Shalhoub) to develop an army of androids resembling young children (including Carmen and Juni themselves) 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 try to save the daughter (Taylor Momsen) of The President Of The United States (Christopher McDonald) while facing 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 Leeke Leeke 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.

Machete series[edit]

Isador "Machete" Cortez (played by Danny Trejo), who appeared in all four Spy Kids films, had a series of two films: Machete and Machete Kills, also directed by Robert Rodriguez. However, the Machete films share little in common with the Spy Kids films thematically, instead being adult-oriented action exploitation films, though they do share several cast members and characters with the Spy Kids films.[5] The idea for a Machete film came from a fake trailer promoting the Grindhouse double-feature by Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.[6] Trejo and Rodriguez have made two different statements regarding its canonicity to the Spy Kids films. Trejo stated that the films depict "what Uncle Machete does when he’s not taking care of the kids",[6] while Rodriguez stated in a Reddit AMA that they are alternate universes.[7]


Spy Kids: Mission Critical (2018–Present)[edit]

On June 16, 2016, Netflix announced an animated Spy Kids television show entitled Spy Kids: Mission Critical with The Weinstein Company.[8] The first and second seasons will both consist of 10 episodes[9] and is produced by Mainframe Studios.[10]

The series was announced by Mike Fleming Jr and created by Michael Hefferon and Sean Jara on May 6, 2015, with the villains being described “as colorful” as the protagonists, and the series is said to contain “as much comedy as wish fulfillment.” FM DeMarco is head writer of the series. WOW! Unlimited Media Inc.'s Vancouver-based Mainframe Studios, the TV division of Rainmaker Entertainment, partnered with the Weinstein Company to produce the series, with the series being described as a "multi season commitment". Robert Rodriguez serves as executive producers due to Bob Weinstein dropping out and Harvey Weinstein getting fired from TWC. It premiered on Netflix worldwide on April 20, 2018.

Cast and crew[edit]

Principal cast[edit]

List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates the character did not appear.
Characters Main series Animated series
Spy Kids Spy Kids 2:
The Island of Lost Dreams
Spy Kids 3-D:
Game Over
Spy Kids:
All the Time in the World
Spy Kids:
Mission Critical
2001 2002 2003 2011 2018 – Present
Carmen Cortez
Alexa Vega Alexa Vega Ashley Bornancin
Addisyn Fair
Juni Cortez
Daryl Sabara Carter Hastings
Gregorio Cortez Antonio Banderas Antonio Banderas
(archive footage)
Christian Lanz
Ingrid Cortez (née Avellan) Carla Gugino Carla Gugino
(deleted scene)
Mira Sorvino
Isador Cortez
Danny Trejo Character is Silent
Fegan Floop Alan Cumming Christian Lanz
Felix Gumm
Cheech Marin
Donnagon Giggles Mike Judge
Alexander Minion Tony Shalhoub
Devlin George Clooney George Clooney
Ms. Gradenko Teri Hatcher
Mr. Lisp Robert Patrick
Helga Avellan Holland Taylor Holland Taylor
(archive footage)
Gary Giggles Matt O'Leary
Gerti Giggles Emily Osment
Romero Steve Buscemi
Valentin Avellan Ricardo Montalbán
Dinky Winks Bill Paxton
President of the United States Christopher McDonald
Alexandra Taylor Momsen
The Toymaker
Sylvester Stallone
Arnold Ryan Pinkston
Francis Bobby Edner
Rez Robert Vito
Demetra Courtney Jines
Francesca "Cesca" Giggles Salma Hayek
The Guy Elijah Wood
Marissa Wilson (née Cortez) Jessica Alba
Rebecca Wilson Rowan Blanchard
Cecil Wilson Mason Cook
Wilbur Wilson Joel McHale
Maria Wilson Belle and Genny Solorzano
Agent Argonaut Elmo
Ricky Gervais
Danger D'Amo
The Timekeeper
Jeremy Piven
Jett Good
Editor / Cameraman Wray Krawford
Glitch Caitlyn Bairstow
Ace Nicholas Coombe
Claudia Floop
Nesta Cooper
Sir Awesome Richard Ian Cox
Peter "PSI" St. Ignatius Travis Turner
Golden Brain Tom Kenny
Spurious Visage
Professor Küpkakke
Kopi Vasquez Candi Milo
Vida Immortata
Desmond "Dez" Vasquez Yuri Lowenthal
Zedmond "Zed" Vasquez
Jaime Vasquez
Jason Pietranthony
"Improv" Improvisario
Bradley Feinstein
Mint Condition
Patton Oswalt
Dr. Chad Jericho Thomas Lennon
JT the Worm Bobcat Goldthwait
Agent No-One Terrence Stone
Robert Englund


Occupation Spy Kids films
Spy Kids Spy Kids 2:
The Island of Lost Dreams
Spy Kids 3-D:
Game Over
Spy Kids:
All the Time in the World
2001 2002 2003 2011
Director Robert Rodriguez
Producer Robert Rodriguez and Elizabeth Avellan
Writer Robert Rodriguez
Composer(s) Robert Rodriguez and John Debney Robert Rodriguez Robert Rodriguez
Carl Thiel
Editor(s) Robert Rodriguez Robert Rodriguez
Rebecca Rodriguez
Cinematographer(s) Guillermo Navarro Robert Rodriguez Jimmy Lindsey and Robert Rodriguez
Production Company Troublemaker Studios
Dimension Films
Distributor(s) Miramax Films The Weinstein Company


Box office performance[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. In the end, it grossed $111 million in North America and $86 million internationally. The fourth film grossed $85 million at the box office. Altogether, the Spy Kids series grossed over $535 million worldwide.

Critical and public response[edit]

The first film received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike, becoming the most critically acclaimed film of the series. The second film, again achieved positive reviews from critics and audiences. The third film in series received more mixed reviews from critics and audiences. It was criticized for the poor 3D visual effects. The fourth and final film, received mostly negative reviews from critics and audiences. The film was panned upon release, being criticized for the plot, acting, visual effects and the 4D Aroma-Scope effect in the film.

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Spy Kids 93% (123 reviews)[11] 71 (27 reviews) A[12]
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams 75% (129 reviews)[13] 66 (29 reviews) A-[12]
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over 45% (140 reviews)[14] 57 (30 reviews) B+[12]
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 22% (56 reviews)[15] 37 (14 reviews) B+[12]

Home media[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.[16]


  1. ^ AFP (October 23, 2013). "'Machete' director Robert Rodriguez doesn't see Oscar future". /gulfnews.com. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  2. ^ "Interview with Mexican director Robert Rodriguez | Film". The Guardian. 2001-04-11. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  3. ^ CIA: Look Back … Gen. William J. Donovan Heads Office of Strategic Services
  4. ^ Fred Topel (August 2002). "Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams". Cinefantastique. Vol. 34 no. 5. pp. 46–49. Rodriguez shot SPY KIDS 2 entirely with High Definition digital cameras
  5. ^ Rodriguez, Robert (February 2014). "I am director Robert Rodriguez, here again with El Rey. Let's play". Reddit. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Westel, Bob (April 1, 2011). "A roundtable chat with actor Danny Trejo, aka "Machete"". Premium Hollywood.
  7. ^ Rodriguez, Robert (February 2014). "I am director Robert Rodriguez, here again with El Rey. Let's play". Reddit. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  8. ^ Brian Steinberg (June 16, 2016). "Netflix Readies Animated 'Spy Kids,' 'Llama Llama' Series (EXCLUSIVE)". Varietyaccessdate=July 1, 2016.
  9. ^ "And just like that we are underway on mixing our second season episodes of Spy Kids: Mission Critical #SpyKidsMC18 First up - ep. 3!". November 17, 2017. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  10. ^ Pinto, Jordan (March 24, 2017). "Wow! Unlimited inks deal with Weinstein Co, Netflix". Playback. Brunico Communications. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  11. ^ Spy Kids Rotten Tomatoes
  12. ^ a b c d https://www.cinemascore.com/publicsearch/index/title/
  13. ^ Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams Rotten Tomatoes
  14. ^ Spy Kids 3-D - Game Over Rotten Tomatoes
  15. ^ Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D Rotten Tomatoes
  16. ^ "Miramax movies, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, Ron Tutor". NYDailyNews.com. February 3, 2011.