The first ‘Spy Kids’ movie was launched in the year 2001 and it was an adventurous, fun family film.
The first two sequels that followed after were also exciting enough to hold audience of all age groups. But eight lengthy years after ‘Spy Kids 3-D’, the movies` original child stars Daryl Sabara and Alexa Vega are now in their early 20s and spy dad Antonio Banderas has hung up his secret-agent badge.
Director Robert Rodriguez`s task with ‘Spy Kids: All the Time in the World’ in 4D was to completely reinvent the series, while remaining true to the spirit of it.
The latest installment doesn’t quite measure up to the first three, which followed the adventures of the Cortez spy family. It simply entertains at a basic level without leaving a lasting impression.
Rodriguez has assembled a decent, mostly new cast, including Jessica Alba, Community`s Joel McHale, Entourage`s Jeremy Piven and new comer Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook.
Alba plays Marissa Cortez-Wilson (younger sister of Banderas` character Gregorio Cortez), who retires from the Organization of Super Spies to raise her new baby and two disrespectful step-children. But a year after calling it quits, she receives an urgent message from Danger D`Amo (Piven), the head of the OSS, begging her to return to help stop a mysterious entity called Timekeeper from causing Armageddon.
It`s not a good time for Marissa seeing as her husband Wilbur (McHale) -- who is clueless about his wife`s double life -- is ambitiously pursuing fame and fortune with his ironically titled reality show, Spy Hunter. She`s also desperately trying to bond with Wilbur`s kids Rebecca (Blanchard) and Cecil (Cook), with little success. But when Timekeeper`s henchmen ransack the family`s home looking for a red sapphire that is key to his devious plan, not only is Marissa thrown back into the world of espionage, Cecil and Rebecca also find themselves caught in the middle of the action.
The siblings` verbal sparring is pretty sassy and kids will relate to the two talented young actors. Alba manages to be both sexy and motherly. But ultimately, her performance is flat compared to the campy turns of McHale and Piven, the latter of whom stars in multiple roles.
British comedian Ricky Gervais steals the movie as the voice of Argonaut, the family`s mangy mutt that turns out to be a robot superdog. Gervais` seemingly improvised one-liners are often hilarious and will probably make adults laugh more than their children.
The lessons that ‘Spy Kids 4’ brings is - respecting family, making the most of your time. Which are important for kids to learn.
Rating: Two cheers to this one!