Spy Kids (stylized as SPY kids) is a 2001 American spy adventure comedy film written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, produced by Elizabeth Avellan and Rodriguez, and starring Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alan Cumming, Teri Hatcher, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Robert Patrick, Tony Shalhoub, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, and Mike Judge.

The first installment in the Spy Kids film series, the film was theatrically released in the United States on March 30, 2001 by Dimension Films. It was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $147 million worldwide. Three sequels were released: The Island of Lost Dreams in 2002, Game Over in 2003, and All the Time in the World in 2011.

The film was nominated for Best Fantasy Film at 28th Saturn Awards, but lost to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.


Ingrid and Gregorio Cortez are rival spies who fall in love. They retire and have two children, 12-year-old Carmen and 9-year-old Juni. They work for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) doing desk work. The children have no idea of their parents' previous career. Ingrid and Gregorio are called back into the field when agents go missing. The children are left in the care of Uncle Felix Gumm. Gregorio suspects that a kids' TV show star Fegan Floop has kidnapped the agents, and mutated them into his "Fooglies," creatures on his show.

They are captured by Floop's "Thumb-Thumb" robots whose arms, legs, and head are made of thumbs, and taken to Floop's castle. Felix is alerted to the parents' capture, activates the fail-safe, tells the children the truth, and that he is not their uncle. The house is assaulted by Thumb-Thumbs, and the children escape alone on a submarine that's set to auto-pilot to a safe house. At the safe house, Carmen unlocks the door using her full name, and the children learn of their parents' past as they decide to rescue them.

Inside of Floop's castle, he introduces his latest creation to Mr. Lisp, small robots in the shape of children. He wishes to replace the world leaders' children with these super-strong robots to control the world. The androids are "dumb", and cannot function outside of their inherent programming. Lisp is furious, demanding usable androids to sell to his clients. Floop along with his second-in-command Alexander Minion interrogate Gregorio and Ingrid. Floop demands the 'Third Brain', but Ingrid has no idea what he's talking about. Gregorio claims that he destroyed the brain years ago. Thinking the brain must be with the children, Floop sends his minions after them. Gregorio reveals to Ingrid the truth about the Third Brain. It was the codename of a project back when he worked in the science division of OSS. It was to house the skills of all of the world's best super spies. The project was deemed too dangerous, was scrapped and the materials to be destroyed, but Gregorio couldn't destroy the brain.

Back at the safe house, the kids are visited by Ms. Gradenko. Gradenko says she works for OSS, and is there to help the children. Gradenko wants the Third Brain, but Carmen does not know anything. Gradenko orders the house to be dismantled, and Juni sees Thumb-Thumbs outside destroying the submarine. Gradenko's intentions revealed, Juni accidentally exposes the Third Brain, and a chase ensues with Carmen and some henchmen with jet packs. Carmen eventually gets the brain, and she and Juni escape the Thumbs.

Carmen realized too late that the bracelet Gradenko gave her was a tracking device, and she and Juni are attacked by their robot counterparts. Although he tries, Juni cannot destroy the Brain, and the androids got it as they fly away. With the Third Brain, Floop can achieve his goal, but he wishes to continue his children's show. Minion has different plans, and takes over, locking Floop into his "virtual room." The kids receive reluctant help from Gregorio's brother Isador "Machete" Cortez when they come to his spy shop, steal some of his gear, and take his spy plane to fly to Floop's castle. Juni crashes the plane into the water, and the two swim into the castle. Minion takes Ingrid and Gregorio to the "Fooglilizer." Gregorio reveals that Minion used to work for the OSS, however Minion was thrown out thanks to Gregorio turning him in, when discovering Minion's intent to input his own ideas concerning the Third Brain.

Juni rescues Floop, and the three of them head to the control room. Floop theorizes he can reprogram the androids. They trap Minion on the Fooglilizer and, confronting Lisp and Gradenko, the family are beset by 500 robots. Machete busts through the window, and joins the family to fight. Floop resets the androids. With the children on their side, the family heads home.

With advice from Juni, Floop introduces the android children on his show. The family's breakfast is interrupted by Devlin who has a mission for Carmen and Juni, Carmen accepts on one condition, that they work as a family.



Spy Kids Soundtrack

Soundtrack album by Various artists

The film score is written by John Debney and Danny Elfman, with contributions from a variety of others, including director Robert Rodriguez and Marcel Rodriguez. Among Elfman's contributions is "Floop's Song (Cruel World)", which is performed by Alan Cumming. Los Lobos covers the Tito Puente song, "Oye Como Va" (adapted as "Oye Como Spy" by David Garza and Robert Rodriguez). The song was nominated for "Outstanding Song in a Motion Picture Soundtrack" at the 2002 ALMA Awards. The closing theme, "Spy Kids (Save the World)", is performed by the Los Angeles indie pop band, Fonda.

The score won an award at the ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards.

Track listing

  • "Cortez Family"
  • "My Parents Are Spies"
  • "Spy Wedding"
  • "Spy Kids Demonstration"
  • "Parents on Mission"
  • "Kids Escape House"
  • "Pod Chase"
  • "The Safehouse"
  • "The Third Brain"
  • "Buddy Pack Escape"
  • "Oye Como Spy"
  • "Floop's Song (Cruel World)"
  • "Spy Go Round"
  • "Minion"
  • "Sneaking Around Machetes"
  • "The Spy Plane"
  • "Floop's Castle"
  • "Final Family Theme"
  • "Spy Kids (Save the World)"

Release and Reception

Spy Kids received high critical acclaim upon release. It currently scores a 93% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 7.2 out of 10. The site's critical consensus reads: "A kinetic and fun movie that's sure to thrill children of all ages." It has a score of 71 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 27 reviews indicating "Generally favorable reviews".

Roger Ebert gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars and called it "a treasure". He wrote, "Movies like "Spy Kids" are so rare.

Spy kids special edition movie poster

The Special Edition Poster

Families are often reduced to attending scatological dumber-and-dumbest movies like "See Spot Run"--movies that teach vulgarity as a value. "Spy Kids" is an intelligent, upbeat, awesome movie that is not about the comedy of embarrassment, that does not have anybody rolling around in dog defecate, that would rather find out what it can accomplish than what it can get away with." Mick LaSelle of San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "It's entertaining and inoffensive, a rare combination in kids' films, which are usually neither." Lael Loewenstein of Variety observed, "A full-blown fantasy-action adventure that also strenuously underscores the importance of family, Spy Kids is determined to take no prisoners in the under-12 demographic, a goal it sometimes dazzlingly achieves. Robert Rodriguez's film, in which two kids become real spies to save the world from a mad genius, fulfills kids' empowerment fantasies and features enough techno-wizardry and cool f/x to satisfy those weaned on videogames."

Spy Kids grossed over $112,719,001 domestically and $35,215,179 overseas for a worldwide total of $147,934,180.

Extended version

A special edition with a deleted scene was released to theaters on August 8, 2001. It also was released with Kellogg's products. There were plans to release the special edition to DVD but it never materialized, despite the fact that a director's commentary and interviews were already recorded for it. However, that version is available on the film's Blu-ray re-release, which was released on August 2, 2011 to coincide with the fourth film.

Home Video Release

Spy Kids Blu-ray

The Blu-Ray cover

The film was released on Video and DVD in the United States on September 18, 2001. The film is also available to download on iTunes. A 91-minute Blu-Ray re-release was scheduled for August 2, 2011 to coincide with the fourth film.

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