With Spy Kids: All the time in the World writer/director Robert Rodriguez acknowledges the passage of time between his long-running franchise (it’s been ten years since the original) by recruiting a new generation of younger, spy-ready kids to action. While it might be an unnecessary entry in the pint-sized spy series, it still manages to a fun adventure that brings some toilet humor laughs and plenty of spy gadget action that families might enjoy, just not nearly as much as the previous entries. The 3D-equipped Blu-ray release brings it all home in a decent, if average, package that feels far more routine than you’d expect from an ordinarily high-energy lineage.
The latest in the series follows Jessica Alba as Marissa Cortez Wilson, a beautiful spy in retirement who is married to Wilbur (Joel McHale), a spy-hunting television reporter, with a new baby in tow while also being a stepmother to twins Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook). When an evil villain with the power to control time (played wildly by Jeremy Piven) disrupts her normal life by trying to take over the world, she has to revert back to her spy ways to save the day. Of course, the twins discover her past and want in on the action, along with the baby and even their dog who turns out to be a robot (voiced hilariously by Ricky Gervais) that also lends a paw to help out. Throw in some help from previous Spy Kids stars Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara), and the zany, cartoony look and feel of the special effects and gadgets, and you have a fun, but average spy action family movie that doesn’t quite fit in with the previous films.
I thought it was nice seeing Carmen and Juni again, and Ricky Gervais as the robotic dog has some of the best lines in the film, but the overall feel and presentation just feels off, like it was rushed out just to have another Spy Kids movie added to the roster.
Anchor Bay did an amazing job with the film transfer, as the visuals come in clean. Thanks to the power of high-definition, every cartoon-like effect from the various spy gadgets the kids use, to the robotic antics of Argonaut the dog look better than ever before. There’s also a 3D Blu-ray of the movie included that takes advantage of the effect a little more than I wanted to, but still looks great. The 5.1 DTS-HD audio is just as exciting, as it puts you right in the middle of all the spy action that happens on screen with crystal clear dialogue and booming sound effects. And for those who are wondering, the “aroma-scope” isn’t present in this release, for better or worse.
As if the movie itself wasn’t average enough, the extras featured here aren’t exactly that secret agent material either. “Robert Rodriguez Interview with Kid Reporter” features a young girl interviewing the director as he talks about how he came to make the film and working with child actors throughout his career. “Spy Kids: Passing the Torch” focuses on the return of Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara, and their team up with the new kids Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook. “Rowan & Mason’s Video Diary” lets viewers see the behind the scenes life of the two young stars of the movie, as they visit make-up, wardrobe, and get ready for filming on the set. “How to Make a Robotic Dog” introduces Elmo, the dog who plays the family dog Argonaut, while this also goes into details of the puppet that doubles for him in certain scenes. “Ricky Gervais as Argonaut” features an interview with the (in)famous British comedian who talks about voicing the robotic canine. While “Spy Gadgets” talks about the high tech gadgets that are used by the Spy Kids in the film.
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World won’t win any awards for originality, but it does offer decent laughs and plenty of cartoony spy gadgetry that we’ve come to expect from the Spy Kids films. It’s a shame that the movie feels so scattershot, almost as if the production was rushed together from spare parts. Fans will enjoy seeing grown-up Carmen and Juni back in action again, even briefly, and there’s no doubt comedian Ricky Gervais steals the show as Argonaut the robot dog. I wish the special features were more lively and involving, and the 3D effects are more distracting than they should be. Most families will probably enjoy this latest chapter in the long-running franchise, just not as much as previous ones, making this Blu-ray edition a rental at best.
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Anchor Bay Entertainment