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Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (PG)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Robert Rodriguez Film School; A New Kind of Stunt Kid; Robert Rodriguez commentary; Lost scenes with commentary; School at Big Bend National Park; Essential Gear: Spy Kids gadgets; Behind the scenes; A Day in the Life of the Spy Kids; Still gallery; Art gallery; Transmooker Trouble game; Teaser trailer.

OBERT Rodriguez has always seemed like a boy playing in a man’s world when it comes to making movies, due to the breathless, giddy, even mischievous approach he takes with most of his subjects.

Think of the exaggerated gun play in Desperado, or the extreme excesses of From Dusk ‘Til Dawn (which managed to combine bank robbers, vampires and Salma Hayek dancing with a snake in one film!), and a boyish grin will seldom be far from the face.

Now think of Spy Kids, the director’s venture into children’s movie territory; a slick little kiddie-pleaser that had enough about it to appeal to the grown-ups going with them.

Well, here we have the follow-up - and boy does Rodriguez have fun delivering what is expected of the sequel. Spy Kids 2 is faster, cheekier, and more exciting than its predecessor, allowing the director’s imagination to run into overdrive.

This time around, Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara) head for a deserted island in a bid to save the world with their parents (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) and grandparents (Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor) in hot pursuit.

Helping and hindering in equal measure are Matt O’Leary and Emily Osment’s rival spy siblings, Gary and Gerti Giggles, and Steve Buscemi’s mad professor, whose Dr Moreau-inspired creations are now roaming about the island (flying pigs and all).

Admittedly, Spy Kids 2 is completely silly and suffers from one precocious child too many (none of the bickering mini-spies are particularly endearing), but Rodriguez’s frenetic style of movie-making seldom allows the viewers (both young and old) to dwell on this for too long.

So while the kids sit back and marvel at the mayhem, no doubt dazzled by the director’s visual flair, the adults can take delight in the adult performances, as well as counting the numerous film references, which take in everything from the Rodriguez back catalogue to a well-observed homage to the effects genius of Ray Harryhausen’s Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts.

Banderas, in particular, appears to be having a blast sending up his macho Latino image, while the likes of Rodriguez regulars Cheech Marin and Danny Trejo provide welcome cameos. Buscemi is typically outrageous, while even Bill Paxton, Tony Shalhoub (surely, now, the blockbuster cameo king) and Alan Cumming contribute knowing asides.

And now that Rodriguez has indulged in some suitably appealing child’s play, it’s time to get back to the proper stuff - with another outing for Banderas’s gun-toting Desperado next on the agenda later this year; perfect ammunition for the boy in us all.

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