Director: Robert Rodriguez.
Cast: Jessica Alba, Joel McHale, Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook, Jeremy Piven, (voice of) Ricky Gervais.
FIRSTLY, I have to admit I haven't seen the previous Spy Kids movies, but my understanding is that the first one was great and the subsequent ones have offered diminishing returns.
If this is true, then Spy Kids 4 continues the downward slide of the franchise. I certainly fail to see how any of the previous ones could have been worse then this infuriatingly unintelligible pile of insipid set pieces and lame toilet humour.
Yes, it may be a bit harsh kicking the crap out of a kids film, but kids films don't have to be this bad. If you're desperate to take the young'uns to the movies this school holidays, don't take them to this - The Lion King is showing at the moment, take them to that instead.
The Lion King is a great kids film. The story is strong, it's entertaining no matter how old you are, it offers young people something more with each viewing (as all good films should, especially kids films), it doesn't treat it's audience like a bunch of mentally handicapped monkeys, it looks stunning, and its themes and life lessons are important. It also has a singing wart-hog.
Spy Kids 4 has none of those things, especially the singing wart-hog. Instead we get a talking dog, voiced by Gervais, who proves to be the highlight of the film.
In fact, Gervais is one of only two positives in this film. The other one, strangled beneath the groan-worthy dialogue and constant time-related puns, is the neat theme of appreciating the time we have and spending it with the people we love.
But that's about all this has going for it. Alba, who couldn't act her way out of a paperbag and has to be one of the worst 'actresses' kicking around Hollywood's A-list, actually turns in one of her best performances outside of Sin City... and she's still rubbish. Jeremy Piven, so good in Entourage, struggles to keep his credibility in tact in multiple roles.
The story, for lack of a better word, is about a villain called The Timekeeper, who has teemed with another villain called Tick Tock to bring about the end of the world by speeding up time. Except we don't really see much compelling evidence as to what effect this has. Or how it is done. Or why they are doing it. And the final explanations of The Timekeeeper's motives actually make less sense then whatever it was you had imagined prior to his explanation.
Naturally it's up to the new breed of Spy Kids (Blanchard and Cook, who are okay) with their stepmum (Alba), who is secretly a spy, and the spy kids from the previous movies (who are now grown-up) to save the day.
The dialogue is as bad as the story. There's probably a drinking game to be had in which you drink every time a character states the bleeding obvious, or tells you what they're doing while they do it. Or makes another stupid time-related pun.
Another annoyance is that Spy Kids 4 is in "4D", which means you get a scratch and sniff card to scratch at appropriate moments. The card, and every bit you scratch, all smells like bubblegum or those textas that smell like synthetic fruit flavours. And by the time you find the right number to scratch, in the dark and through your 3D glasses, the moment has passed. I think one of them was supposed to smell like bacon. I did not smell bacon. Another one was possibly supposed to smell like a baby crapping in its diaper. Thankfully, all I could smell was bubblegum and textas.
Finally, the film looked rubbish, with the kind of sub-par special effects you expect from a telemovie.
Don't take your kids to see this. I never thought I would say this, but take them to see The Smurfs instead. It's a smurfload better than this pile of smurf.
Or better yet, take them to see The Lion King and show them a classic family film.