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Spy Kids 2:
Island of Lost Dreams

Starring Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alex Vega and Daryl Sabara, with Cheech Marin and Steve Buscemi
Written and Directed by Robert Rodriguez

IN SHORT: Strictly for kidlet returnees. [Rated PG for for action sequences and brief rude humor. 99 minutes]

It has always been policy of this site to ignore the Source Material when reviewing new movies. This becomes a bit trickier when reviewing sequels to big hits. Do the sequels take a bit of time to recap what's what for the folk who didn't see the original or do they just plow into the next story full bore? Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams does the latter, unfortunately. If you're a grown-up who has only had one exposure to its predecessor, SK2 is all flash and bang. It's three laughs and some in-joke references to Mission: Impossible and The Lord of the Rings and tons of gadgets (that's the flash). Halfway trough, the gadgets start working. By then so had our attention span. Then again, all the kidlets around us, no doubt fueled by many hours in front of a small screen watching the video or DVD Spy Kids, were bouncing merrily.

Where Spy Kids had only two super kidlets, Spy Kids 2 has at least twenty, all of whom battle to save their parental units early in Spy Kids 2. We'll concern ourselves with Gary and Gerti Giggles (Matt O’Leary and Emily Osment), whose father Donnagan (Mike Judge) has been named to head the OSS, instead of the obvious candidate Gregorio Cortez (Antonio Banderas). The evil guys the kidlets battle while their parents are nose deep in pasta are after something called a Transmooker Device. It's some kind of gadget that can destroy the world and it's the property of the President of the United States (Christopher McDonald). Sometimes his daughter Alexandra (Taylor Momsen).

Juni's got an eye for Alexandra. Carmen's got the hots for Gary. Kidlet hormones are a burstin' everywhere and all of it fits into necessary character development. Of course, it helps if you know who's who, which this episode doesn't bother to recap.

Because of the foop-up and loss of the Device, Level 2 Agent Juni (Daryl Sabara) is fired from the OSS. Not for long. Older sister Carmen (Alexa Vega), also Level 2 and a super-hacker to boot, busts into the OSS computers, switches assignments and soon Juni and Carmen are off to find a mysterious island, somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle,where the device and the magnet-headed bad guys were headed when they disappeared off radar screens. Gary and Gerti, Level 1 Agents thanks to their family connections, are waylaid in the Gobi Desert. But not for long.

Gregorio and Spy Mama Ingrid (Carla Gugino) head off to rescue the kidlets, as do Ingrid's parents, (Holland Taylor and Ricardo Montalban) the first generation of family spies (Grandpa is in a gadgetized wheelchair, with rich, Corinthian leather upholstery no doubt) who don't particularly care for the Spy Dad. The kidlets discover this Island of Lost Dreams, created by genetic specialist Romero (Steve Buscemi) a la Dr. Moreau who has populated the island with all sorts of clever crossbreeds, and has hidden a more powerful Transmooker Device on the far side of the island. All four kidlets, plus all parental units, once they get to the island, face off and try to save the day. Or rule the world. Ah, treachery!

Oh, yeah, on the Island none of the gadgets work. Reduced to sheer kidlethood, can any of 'em save the day. Well, d'uh.

Speaking of Treachery, Uncle Felix (Cheech Marin) returns from the first film,as does Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming) and his minion, Mr. Minion (Tony Shalhoub) and gadget maker Machete (Danny Trejo). One isn't happy as a second banana but you'll have to wait until the end to find out who.

The gadgets and special effects are fine and colorful. Carla Gugino gets about a tenth of the time she should, once she dons her spy gear (be still my heart!) but this one's for the kidlets and vidfreaks. We put ratings on films that adults can go to all by theirselves, and the first film fit that category with bells on. Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams is all kidlet friendly, with too little adult targeted material to keep grownups happy all by themselves. If you've got kidlets, take 'em. Or wait for the vid and hold a marathon.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Spy Kids 2, he would have paid...


This one is not for kidlet-free grownups. Somewhere along the line it has the potential to become Gilligan's Island of Dr. Moreau, but doesn't quite go that route

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