What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this kids' spy flick is definitely directed at families with elementary-aged children, so there's little objectionable in the movie. There's a bit of violence (the three kids use martial arts to kick and shove out of harm's way with two menacing adults), some mild taunts ("fool," "idiot," etc.) and some questionable decisions on the part of the kids, but otherwise, it's fine for the second-grade and up crowd. Families should know that despite their heroism, the three central children are considered rule breakers at home and trouble makers at school, but at the end of the film they prove they were right to follow their instincts.
What's the story?
Max Brinkley (Andrew C. Maier) is a precocious orphan who lives with his uncle Rick (William B. Davis), the CEO of a high-tech firm that has created a "super computer." After Max and his two best friends Scott (Spencer Esau), a whiz at hacking, and Jessica (Jennifer Lancheros), a martial arts wunderkind, are caught organizing a food fight, the principal orders them to do their community service working at a video-game company. There, they discover the company's executive has stolen a top-secret micro-chip from the FBI and end up apprehending him and his associate before the government agents.
Is it any good?
It's not terrible, but some the adult supporting characters should consider going back to acting school. They are either completely over the top (the health teacher) or soporifically monotonous (the FBI lead). But families in the market for a kid-friendly movie that's full of mild adventure may not care about the low production values and the laughable script, especially if parents don't plan to watch the movie with their children, who are much more forgiving about sub-par writing and acting.
At least Davis seemed to take his role as Uncle Rick seriously, and even that relationship is unbelievable (as is the plot point that has a school principal punishing students by having them work for a private corporation). The kids are fine -- they laugh, looked worried, and get physical on cue, but they aren't the charming child actors you know are destined for a career in acting. It's obvious the movie took a long time to finish, because the end has an epilogue set three years in the future. Surprisingly, that sequence is the most entertaining of the entire movie.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why movies with kid spies so popular. What's the appeal of young characters who can hold their own against nefarious villains? Which movies in the genre are your favorite and why?
Is it realistic that a school principal asked Max and his friends to work for a video-game company?
What are some of the messages in this movie about troublemakers? How are adults portrayed? Are there any role models in the movie?