Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World Movie Poster Image
Positive messages can't save worst film in action series.
  • PG
  • 2011
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 42 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Rodriguez' movies are all about entertainment.

Positive Messages

The movie's overall message is a positive one -- that you should never put off spending time with the people you love or doing what's truly important, because time goes by quicker than you imagine. Even the villain's message is that people deserve to be punished for "wasting time." Several characters reinforce the theme that if you don't spend time wisely, you'll live with regret.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Wilson parents prioritize their families over their jobs, and the kids learn to stop mistreating their stepmother. Juni and Carmen stop bickering to work together as a spy "team" again. Cecil has hearing aids, but the fact that he's hard of hearing is never portrayed as an impairment -- if anything, his aids give him an edge.

Violence & Scariness

Cartoonish violence and action sequences in which people fall but aren't fatally injured. No one bleeds or dies in the action scenes, even though the agents are using hand-to-hand combat, martial arts, and high-tech gadgets to fight their enemies. The kids use mechanized weapons that include an electrified lasso or whip and special gloves that can do serious damage.

Sexy Stuff

A husband and wife share a couple of kisses and some embraces. Marissa and Carmen wear form-fitting, occasionally cleavage-revealing outfits and skin-tight spy uniforms.


Mild insults include "butt head," "bobblehead," and a brattily uttered "STEP-mother." Carmen says the memorable "shi...take mushrooms" (a reference to the exclamation in previous installments). A few utterances of "oh my God."


Several products and designer brands are prominently featured, including car companies Mercedes (and its subsidiary Smart Car), Mustang, and Mazda; the ubiquitous Apple computer; and some watch companies.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the fourth installment in the Spy Kids series (the first in 3D) features the same level of action/fantasy violence as the previous versions, with an added dose of toilet humor thanks to the Baby Spy. The language is unremarkable save for a couple of insults ("butt head," etc.) and the famous "shi...take mushrooms" line from the other movies. There's more noticeable product placement here than in the first three films (particularly car companies and Apple computers), as well as many more scatological jokes. Overall, though, the message is positive and family focused: Don't waste time or delay what's important.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDaniel L. July 31, 2020

A bit intense but is fine for older kids!

PG: intense action and mild rude humor
Adult Written byRafting Lady October 8, 2019

Terrible reference to foster care

Overall the movie had positive family messages but the scene when the dad's boss sees mom with her children at work and says to call children services and... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byJeep cherokee February 28, 2021
Teen, 15 years old Written byThebritishdogin... February 28, 2021

fart jokes

this movie is an entire fart joke I swear. This movie could literally pass as fetish material. Would not recommend. If it wasn’t for the British dog this movie... Continue reading

What's the story?

Undercover OSS agent Marissa Cortez Wilson (Jessica Alba) is married to TV presenter Wilbur Wilson (Joel McHale) and stepmother to his two kids, Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook). On the day she has her own baby, Marissa retires from life as a spy. A year later, the last criminal she put away -- time "stealer" Tick Tock -- has escaped from prison with the help of a nefarious villain called the Time Keeper. Together they've figured out how to make time accelerate so quickly that it will literally run out, and the world will end. The only thing that can stop this time Armageddon is a mystical crystal that's housed in a locket that Marissa gave her combative stepdaughter. Eventually the Wilsons end up back at the OSS, where Rebecca and Cecil must use their skills to bring down the time bandits and save their parents.

Is it any good?

This film continues the Spy Kids series' downward spiral and ruins the memory of what was once an exciting family film franchise. Writer-director-producer Robert Rodriguez has gathered an all-star cast of his friends (in addition to the Wilson parents, there's Jeremy Piven as OSS director, Ricky Gervais as the voice of a robotic dog Argonaut, a return cameo by Danny Trejo as Uncle Machete, and Spy Kids veterans Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara as Carmen and Juni Cortez), but their talent is wasted in this ill-thought installment.


Gone is all the passionate banter between Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino; they're replaced here by a bland Alba and McHale, whose dialogue lacks anything resembling chemistry. The kids are cute at first but quickly grow obnoxious, until near the end, when they're sickeningly sweet again. There are so many platitudes that even the villains can't help pushing the movie's commendable but annoyingly overt message that we should stop wasting time and start spending it with the people we love. Even the original spy kids can't add any oomph to this forgettable film; instead, we're left with a gimmicky trifle of a comedy filled with fart jokes and an accompanying "Aroma-Scope" card that's just a reminder of how much this movie stinks.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's message about time management and family unity. How do the characters all make choices that show they've learned the big lesson?

  • Do you think the movie's violence has less impact because it's cartoonish and no one seems to really get hurt? Is unrealistic violence less disturbing?

  • How does the movie compare to the other Spy Kids films? Do you think the series should continue?

  • How is Cecil's hearing depicted? Do his hearing aids affect him negatively or positively?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and adventure

Themes & Topics

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