Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner8/12/2002

Three out of five stars
Running time: 82 mins

A welcome addition to the Summer of Sequels, this has everything you’d expect from the first film – brightly coloured sets, a likeable cast, great special effects, some great gadgets and several extremely funny gags.

If you enjoyed last year’s surprise hit Spy Kids, the chances are you’ll appreciate the sequel, as all the elements from the first film are present and correct. In fact, with Spy Kids 2, it looks very much as if writer-director Rodriguez could have a mini-Bond-type franchise on his hands, which, on the evidence of the first sequel, wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

Little Troublemaker

The film has an inspired opening sequence. Theme-park owner Bill Paxton is giving a tour of the ‘Little Troublemaker’ theme park and showing off the new rides. There’s the Whipper Snapper (cars full of people suspended by ropes that are snapped like whips), the Vomiter (Bill opens an umbrella just in time as he explains “We try to tell them not to ride on a full stomach but…they won’t listen”) and the piece de resistance, the Juggler, whose robotic arms literally juggle the cars full of people. (Unfortunately, these are the funniest scenes in the film, but they are very, VERY funny).

Anyway, on this particular day, the President’s daughter (Taylor Momsen, from The Grinch) is at the park and her attention-seeking antics soon finds her in need of a damn good rescuing. Enter the Spy Kids (Daryl Sabara as Juni and Alexa Vega as Carmen), only this time they have rivals, in the form of Gary and Gertie Giggles (Matthew O’Leary, who was in Domestic Disturbance, and Emily Osment).

The outcome of the rescue sets the rest of the plot in motion, with both teams dispatched to the mysterious Island of Lost Dreams on a secret mission (with the parents in hot pursuit).

Super-duper Gadgets

As with the first film, there’s a lot to enjoy here, even if the actual plot points are a little shaky (though there’s a better climax this time round). Of particular note are the delightful gadgets, such as Juni’s ‘bug’ (which does a crowd-pleasing Spider-Man impression on its way to eavesdrop on an important mission), the super-duper, state of the art watches that do everything except tell time (a great running gag) and the elasticated hairband with “ninety-nine different uses”.

The cast are excellent. Practically everyone from the first film makes an appearance, and notable additions include the welcome sight of Ricardo Montalban in a jet-pack-equipped wheelchair and the always-excellent Holland Taylor as Ingrid’s parents, whose unexpected appearance occasions one of the best gags.

Banderas is superb, too, and seems to delight in sending up his own character – he is lucky to have found a director who knows his strengths, as his Hollywood career otherwise has been something of a disappointment. At any rate, he and Gugino make an appealing couple and his hilarious fight scene with Mike Judge is worth the price of admission alone.

Kids Steal The Show

It’s the kids who steal the show, though – both are immensely likeable actors who have a believable onscreen relationship. There’s also fantastic support from Steve Buscemi, as the Mysterious Genius behind the Island of Lost Dreams – his relationship with his various ‘creations’ provides one of the film’s best moments.

The film isn’t without flaws – the script could have used another rewrite, as one or two of the lines fall flat, and it also feels as if one or two scenes are missing. However, for the most part, the snappy pace and pleasingly short running time make up for its shortfalls.

Ultimately, if you liked the first film, you won’t be disappointed, and if you haven’t seen the first film, then it doesn’t really matter, as the sequel stands comfortably on its own. The bottom line is that kids will get a big kick out of the film and adults won’t object to being dragged to see it. Worth seeing. Shame the ‘bug’ isn’t in it more, though.

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Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams
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Content updated: 15/12/2019 05:54

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