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Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World is a sequel nobody asked for. After three films, each one worse than the last, this franchise was done. It wrapped itself up nicely in the third installment by including, quite literally, every character in a final goodbye finale. It’s an underrated threequel—it’s certainly not as bad some make it out to be—but it nevertheless came dangerously close to being rotten. If that movie and its predecessors stuck on one side of the recommendable scale, All the Time in the World lands with a thud on the other. As far as kids movies go, it’s not unwatchable, but the imagination and wit has faded. I think it’s time we let this one die.

When the film begins, Marissa (Jessica Alba), a spy for the OSS (Organization of Super Spies), is on the trail of Tick Tock (Jeremy Piven). He has stolen an OSS mini disk and she plans to get it back. Unfortunately, she’s minutes away from having a baby. Flash forward a year later and she has retired from the world of spies, opting instead to stay home with her new baby and her stepchildren, Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook), while her husband, Wilbur (Joel McHale) hosts his new reality show, “Spy Hunter.” But when time begins to move forward at a rapid pace thanks to the Armageddon device held by a mysterious villain called the Timekeeper, she is forced to come out of retirement. Soon, her stepchildren learn who she really is and find themselves recruited by the newly reborn Spy Kids division.

Before I begin to criticize this film, it must be noted that it’s not terrible and children will most likely enjoy it. Unless you’re sensitive to, or offended by, gross-out humor, it’s relatively inoffensive and harmless, at least from a moral viewpoint. From an intellectual one, it’s difficult to sit through, especially if clock puns aren’t your thing. Although this installment attempts to capture the same youthful spirit of the other films, it suffers due to a weak story and the replacement of past characters with uninteresting new ones. Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino and the pleasingly wacky Alan Cumming are out in favor of a stupid villain (who wears a clock on his head) and a family without an interesting bond connecting them. The new kids pale in comparison to Carmen and Juni from the original trilogy as well, particularly Rebecca, who is a mean, vindictive little brat who only begins to treat her stepmother with respect once she learns she’s a spy. I guess Marissa quitting her job to spend the last year taking care of her wasn’t enough.

Despite their inferior quality to characters that came before, each actor does what they can and, in keeping with tradition, hams it up big time. They know they’re in an absurd movie and they have fun with it. That fun doesn’t translate to us, though, because the entire movie feels like a prank thanks to its gimmicky (and heavily marketed) 4D aspect. Dubbed Aroma-Scope, each viewer of the film is given a card (thankfully, at no extra cost) with numbers on it. As each number appears, you scratch and sniff the corresponding place on the card and it is supposed to give you a whiff of whatever is onscreen (and if you’re wondering what the chances are of baby poo, I’d say they’re pretty good). But, unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work. At all. There are eight spots to smell, but one particular smell overwhelms the rest: the smell of the card. The intended smells are faint at best and do nothing more than distract from the film. Having to fumble with that card and time it to work with the action onscreen is maddening and unnecessary. This so-called 4D is a bigger gimmick, and much more useless, than 3D. However, I don’t think this one is going to catch on.

There’s a twist at the end of Spy Kids: All the Time in the World and when it happens, Cecil remarks, “I didn’t see that coming.” He’s the only one. It’s so blatantly obvious that one would only need to look at a still photo to figure it out; no movie viewing necessary. To say why would constitute spoilers, so I’ll refrain, but I imagine if you’re smart enough to read this, you’ll be smart enough to decipher the “mystery.” But it’s a mystery not worth solving. Contrary to what the title suggests, your time in the world is precious and short. Why waste it watching this?

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World receives 2/5