A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Rodriguez' movies are all about entertainment.
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
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.