The Spy Next Door – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2010 movie The Spy Next Door.

Story

The story is cute. Sort of a Uncle Buck meets Jackie Chan. It was just as formulaic as you can expect from a “fighting guy takes care of kids” type of movie.

You don’t watch this for the story.

Score: 0

Characters

Nerdy boy, angsty teen, and cute little kid. They all did well and their was some surprising depth in the characters. Although I did get annoyed at how young the 4 year old acted and was frustrated by the old trope of the Hispanic character being the mole.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Overall it was stilted and awkward. Some of it made me cringe.

However Jackie Chan was both adorable and hilarious.

Score: 0.5

Visual and Music

The fighting was top notch, the rest was okay.

The music wasn’t great and sometimes jarring.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This movie had Jackie Chan signing a lullaby and using stunts to get kids ready for school. It had him beating up a future MacGyver. It had heart, humour, and great action.

Fun for everyone.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie isn’t great cinema but it is a lot of fun and if you’re looking for a cute action movie, or if your child is currently in a spy obsession, this a great choice.

Overall Score: 2.5 Stars

Spy Kids 3 and Spy Kids 4 – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2004 and 2011 movies Spy Kids 3: Game Over and Spy Kids 4-D: All the Time in the World.

I reviewed Spy Kids 1 and 2 in a previous post

Story

Spy Kids 3

Villain captured in a cyber prison turns that prison into a game in order to enslave kids minds and …? Spy organization sends kid spy into game to find his sister and shut the game down.

It has serious potential but there was so little story and what there was, was confusing, ableist, or just boring. I spent most of the movie shaking my head or yelling at the main character. The first two were all about family but this one barely makes a cameo out of everything.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 4

It took seven years for people to forget about the last one. This one brings in new kids, new parents, and a very updated OSS. The time manipulation was utterly unbelievable and made my head hurt.

The story did go back to it’s roots and become all about family. The cameos by the original kids was great.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Spy Kids 3

They really tried to make Juni the sensitive outsider here and it failed completely. He’s basically a bumbling idiot. While in the others he and his sister bumble together and solve the problem, in this one the villain is helping him win and his sister is only in a tiny part of the movie.

Stalone is fantastic at chewing the scenery but his character is confused, confusing, and barely above useful. And don’t get me started on the one girl character.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 4

The characters in this were much better and less insulting stereotypes. I like that the boy being hearing impaired doesn’t make him weak, I like that the mom kicks ass while pregnant, I like that the kids are smart again. That being said, they were all a little bland as characters.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Spy Kids 3

There’s a scene near the beginning where the main character is talking about family and another character says, “Everyone is family Juni.”

His reply is, “That doesn’t any sense.”

That’s the best description of this movie. Nonsensical drivel followed by insipid dialogue.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 4

It wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible. There are a few good puns and a lot of clock or time jokes. It’s ok.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Spy Kids 3

I thought 2 had a lot of 3D gimmicks and stupidity. This one practically based the entire movie on it. It’s cheesy pseudo computer game graphics for the entire movie. It looked bad sixteen years ago and looks worse now. The music was better.

Score: 0.5

Spy Kids 4

It took a few movies but they finally moved back to the hyper-saturated cartoon look of the first one. The action well done and the scenery is great. The music wasn’t fantastic but it was pretty good.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Spy Kids 3

The beginning and the end are a lot of fun and the middle parts are interesting if non-nonsensical and dumb.

Score: 0.5

Spy Kids 4

This was my daughters favourite of the four. She said it’s cause there was a dog and a baby. I liked it because it was a fun kids action movie. It doesn’t hold up to the original, but it was ok.

Score: 1

Overall

Spy Kids 3

Taking out the sibling dynamic from this series was a mistake. This movie doesn’t live up to the first and frankly is one of the worst movies I’ve seeen. It’s not offensive (Except the honeypot, nerd bashing, and ableism) just boring.

Final Score: 1 Star

Spy Kids 4

This movie tried to recreate the whimsy and awesomeness of the first but doesn’t quite get there. It’s bogged down by fart jokes and 3D gags along with a premise that makes my head hurt if I think about it too hard.

Final Score: 3 Stars

Spy Kids and Spy Kids 2 – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 and 2002 movies Spy Kids and Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams.

Story

Spy Kids

I was expecting this to be silly and juvenile. It was, but it owned it to a degree that I never expected. The story is a near perfectly crafted spy adventure, with just the right amount of twists and surprises. What elevates the movie is the purposeful overdoing of literally everything. This is a lovingly crafted homage to spy movies that manages to amp up the silly.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

The sequel suffers from the tightness of the firsts writing. Expanding to include more spies and more gadgets and more of everything. It did manage to capture the joy and charm of the first one but it took a while.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Spy Kids

Each character is built as a caricature of a standard spy trope and each one manages to overcome it through depth of character and some surprisingly good acting.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

The main actors reprise their roles well if not as well as the first. The characters are a little less intricate to make room for the plot and special effects. The inclusion of Buscemi, Montalban, and Taylor to the cast adds skill and gravitas but doesn’t save from the rest of the poor characters and some truly terrible acting from the villians.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Spy Kids

Overall the dialogue is hammy and overblown. It’s fun but nothing extremely special.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 2

The dialogue in this movie is best described as a pale imitation of the first movie.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

Spy Kids

This was a pretty solid movie for a low budget 2001 film it still looked good. The music was okay both are acceptable.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

This did not age well. The special effects look terrible and the constant 3D gimmicks actually hurt the composition of most scenes.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Spy Kids

This movie was fun and consistently so throughout the movie. Wonderful commentary on kids entertainment, spy movies, and family.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

This was uneven and there were several times I wished I wasn’t watching it. It really wasn’t terrible.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Spy Kids

Lovely little film that explorers what it is to be family with an impressive absurdity.

Final Score: 4 Stars

Spy Kids 2

It fails to capture the whimsical absurdity of the first and almost completely loses the heart. It’s not a bad movie but it’s not very good.

Final Score: 2 Stars