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Spy Kids is an American/Spanish family action film franchise created, written, and directed by Robert Rodriguez, and produced by Dimension Films and Troublemaker Studios. The franchise consists of four films, a Netflix series, and several games and books. The main plot initially followed the adventures of Carmen and Juni Cortez, two Hispanic-American siblings who become involved in their parents' espionage. The rest of their family are also spies as well, including their estranged uncle Machete and maternal grandparents.

Background and Production

Influences

Spy Kids was heavily influenced by James Bond films. Robert Rodriguez says the first film was the "Willy and James Bond mix"[1] and the second was the "Mysterious Island and James Bond mix"; by this pattern the third film could be described as the "Tron and James Bond mix". Technology in the films is almost always portrayed as looking friendly, and a bit cartoonish.

The spy organization featured in the films is called the OSS. The initials seem to have been derived from the Office of Strategic Services, a former American intelligence organization during WWII which later evolved into the CIA. What the initials stand for in the Spy Kids universe is never specified in the movies. However, on the merchandise, they stand for Organization of Super Spies[2], but according to the Spy Kids Adventures books and Spy Kids: Junior Novel, they stand for their real life initials, Office of Strategic Services.

Themes

One of the chief themes of Spy Kids is the unity of family. The films also play with the idea of children having adult responsibilities, and how keeping secrets from family members can have a negative effect on relationships. The first film also deals extensively with sibling rivalry and the responsibility of older children. The films tend to have a strong Hispanic heritage theme, as Rodriguez is of Mexican descent.[3]

Feature films

Spy Kids (2001)

Main article: Spy Kids

After retiring from espionage for ten years, Gregorio (Antonio Banderas) and Ingrid (Carla Gugino) are pulled back into duty for one last mission, despite the fact that they were out of practice, and were captured in the process. Their two children, Carmen (Alexa PenaVega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara), discover the truth of their parents' past, which they had neglected to tell them because they were afraid that if they knew, they would picture danger at every corner, and decide to rescue them. On their first mission, Carmen and Juni manage to find their estranged uncle, Isador "Machete" Cortez (Danny Trejo), a genius gadget inventor, and Juni helps to redeem Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming). Together, Carmen and Juni thwart the plan of Alexander Minion (Tony Shalhoub) to develop an army of androids resembling young children for a mastermind named Mr. Lisp (Robert Patrick) and his partner Ms. Gradenko (Teri Hatcher).

Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (2002)

Main article: Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams

As agents of the OSS’s new Spy Kids Division, Carmen and Juni face a particularly hard competition with Gary (Matt O'Leary) and Gerti Giggles (Emily Osment), the two children of a double-dealing agent Donnagon Giggles (Mike Judge), whom Carmen and Juni helped to rescue from the first film. Juni gets fired from the OSS after fighting with Gary over a smaller version of the Transmooker, a device that can shut off all electronic devices, even though it was Gary who started the fight. Juni loses his spot for the "Spy Kid of the Year" award, while Donnagon plans to steal the Transmooker to take over the world. On their new, more challenging mission, the Ukata assignment, Carmen and Juni follow the trail to the mysterious island of Leeke Leeke which is home to Dr. Romero (Steve Buscemi), an eccentric scientist who attempted to create genetically-miniaturised animals, but instead ended up with his island inhabited by mutant monsters. Eventually, Donnagon is fired and Gary is disavowed, and the Transmooker is destroyed. Juni is offered his job back, but in order to take a break from the OSS, he retires to start his own private eye agency.

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003)

Main article: Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over

After retiring from the OSS, Juni is thrust back into service when an evil mastermind named Sebastian the Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone) creates a fictional video game called Game Over, which hypnotizes its users. Carmen was sent on a mission to disable the game, but disappeared on Level 4. With the help of his maternal grandfather, Valentin Avellan (Ricardo Montalban), who uses a wheelchair, Juni is sent after Carmen and helps her to disable the game in order to save the world. It is revealed that Sebastian was the one who disabled Valentin in the first place. Instead of avenging his former partner, Valentin forgives Sebastian, who redeems at the end.

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (2011)

Main article: Spy Kids 4D: All the Time in the World

The fourth film in the series took a different direction, for not only taking place ten years after the first movie, it introduces a new generation of Spy Kids. The OSS has become the world's top spy agency, while the Spy Kids Division has become defunct. A retired spy, Marissa Wilson (Jessica Alba), is thrown back into the action along with her two stepchildren, Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook), when the maniacal Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) attempts to take over the world. In order to save the world, Rebecca and Cecil must team up with Marissa, along with familiar faces Juni and Carmen, who are young adults and have passed the torch on to Rebecca and Cecil.

Television series

Spy Kids: Mission Critical

Main article: Spy Kids: Mission Critical

On June 16, 2016, Netflix announced an animated Spy Kids TV show entitled Spy Kids: Mission Critical from producer Bob Weinstein and the Weinstein Company, with FM DeMarco of Netflix original series Dragons: Race to the Edge as head writer. The show follows brother-and-sister team Juni and Carmen Cortez as they attend Spy Kids Academy, a top-secret spy school for kid agents. They must train and lead a team of fellow Spy Kids cadets against the forces of S.W.A.M.P. (Sinister Wrongdoers Against Mankind’s Preservation) and their leader, Golden Brain. The series will be available to Netflix members worldwide on April 20, 2018. The first and second seasons will both consist of 10 episodes and will be produced by Mainframe Studios.

Characters

Main article: List of Spy Kids characters
  • Italics indicate a cameo
  • A dark grey cell indicates the character did not appear in the film or show.
Characters Films Television Series
Spy Kids
(2001)
Island of Lost Dreams
(2002)
Game Over
(2003)
All the Time in the World
(2011)
Mission Critical (2018)
Gregorio Cortez Antonio Banderas   Christian Lanz
Ingrid Cortez Carla Gugino   Mira Sorvino
Carmen Cortez Alexa PenaVega
Addisyn Fair (infant)
Alexa PenaVega Ashley Bornancin
Juni Cortez Daryl Sabara Carter Hastings
Isador "Machete" Cortez Danny Trejo  
Valentin Avellan   Ricardo Montalbán  
Helga Avellan   Holland Taylor  
Donnagon Giggles Mike Judge  
Gary Giggles   Matt O'Leary  
Gerti Giggles   Emily Osment  
Fegan Floop Alan Cumming   Christian Lanz
Alexander Minion Tony Shalhoub  
Felix Gumm Cheech Marin  
Dr. Romero   Steve Buscemi  
Dinky Winks   Bill Paxton  
Ms. Gradenko Teri Hatcher  
Mr. Lisp Robert Patrick  
Diego Devlin George Clooney   George Clooney  
Alexandra   Taylor Momsen  
The President of the United States   Christopher McDonald  
The Toymaker   Sylvester Stallone  
Francesca "Cesca" Giggles   Salma Hayek  
Demetra   Courtney Jines  
Arnold   Ryan Pinkston  
Francis   Bobby Edner  
Rez   Robert Vito  
Rebecca Wilson   Rowan Blanchard  
Cecil Wilson   Mason Cook  
Marissa Wilson   Jessica Alba  
Wilbur Wilson   Joel McHale  
Danger D'Amo   Jeremy Piven  
Tick Tock   Jeremy Piven  
Glitch   Caitlyn Bairstow
Ace   Nicholas Coombe
Scorpion   Nesta Cooper
Sir Awesome   Richard Ian Cox
PSI   Travis Turner
Vida Immortata   Candi Milo
Golden Brain   Tom Kenny
Otto Tune   Christian Lanz
Mint Condition   Patton Oswalt
Improvisario   Yuri Lowenthal
Mauly   Candi Milo

Trivia

  • After the release of Spy Kids 3: Game Over, there were plans of an animated, straight to DVD sequel, but never made it past pre-production and was simply an idea.[4]

References

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2001/apr/11/artsfeatures1
  2. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0233/6235/products/10149911-1-spy_kids__complete_collection_all_4_spy_kids_movies_boxset-dvd_f_41e838fd-cb25-42f3-a0ed-9e3fd3b31161_grande.jpg?v=1410829671
  3. http://gulfnews.com/arts-entertainment/celebrity/machete-director-robert-rodriguez-doesn-t-see-oscar-future-1.1246087
  4. https://web.archive.org/web/20051123013033/http://www.latinoreview.com/interviews/rr-sincitydvd.html