Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams

The first Spy Kids was a wonderful surprise, a family movie that the entire family could watch and enjoy, with a great sense of subversive humor. The man primarily responsible for this was Richard Rodriguez. Rodriguez (Spy Kids, The Faculty) was the creative force behind the first as well as this sequel, with over a dozen credits to his name including writer, director, producer, editor, blah blah blah. The problem with most sequels is that they take a good formula and change it. Rodriguez shifted the tone from fantasy to a little more sci-fi, but his subversive humor, inventive gadgets and nearly everything else is intact for this fun sequel.

If anything, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams excels because of the way Rodriguez made it. He was able to get the entire cast from the first movie to return, and enlarged the cast significantly. There are too many people, which leaves some of the original cast members like Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Alan Cumming, and Tony Shalhoub shortchanged. It feels like Rodriguez is both presenting a sequel and laying the foundation for even more sequels, which will be welcome as long as he can keep up the quality. Rodriguez's story moves quickly in order to accommodate everybody, but still takes the time to present a strong moral in a non-preachy manner that kids can enjoy.

Spy Kids 2 takes place a little while after the events of the first movie. Due to the success of Carmen (Alexa Vega, Spy Kids, Follow the Stars Home) and Juni (Daryl Sabara, Spy Kids) Cortez, the OSS commissioned the creation of the Spy Kids organization, with the caveat that they need parental supervision for the dangerous missions. Their father Gregorio (Antonio Banderas, Original Sin, Spy Kids) is in the running for the director's position, and their mother Ingrid (Carla Gugino, The Center of the World, The One) is still as overprotective as ever. What is also new is an intergenerational rivalry. Donnagon Giggles (Mike Judge, Spy Kids, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut) is also in the running for the director position, and his kids Gary (Matthew O'Leary, Domestic Disturbance, Frailty) and Gerti (Emily Osment, The Secret Life of Girls, Cast and Crew ) frequently butt heads with Carmen and Juni. Carmen believes that if she and Juni can find something called the Transmooker device, they can become full spies.

The Transmooker is a device that can stop technology. Somebody is after it with maniacal desires to take over the world. It is on a mysterious island populated with strange hybrid creatures invented by Romero (Steve Buscemi, Mr. Deeds, Domestic Disturbance). Some of the creatures and effects look a little reminiscent of Clash of the Titans because Rodriguez did everything in digital, but that is forgivable. Carmen and Juni go missing once on the island, so Gregorio and Ingrid launch a rescue mission. Also along for the ride are Ingrid's parents, Grandpa (Ricardo Montalban, The Naked Gun, Latin Nights) and Grandma (Holland Taylor, Legally Blonde, Happy Accidents), who used to be spies and do not approve of Gregorio. Throughout it all is Rodriguez's fertile sense of imagination that infuses Spy Kids 2 with a sense of life, something missing from most other movies.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 40 minutes, Rated PG for action sequences and brief rude humor.

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