More Robert Rodriguez Kid Movies

Watt’s Up! Just over a month I had a look at Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids Trilogy. (Which you should check out if you haven’t already.) Now we’re moving on to the other 3 kids movies that Rodriguez has made, so let’s get started.

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“Just relax, lay about, or my fist will put you out.
Dream, dream, dream, dream, dream, dream.”

2005 was a very special year for cinema with great releases like: Tim Burton’s reboot of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Michael Bay’s The Island, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Fox’s Fantastic Four, Dreamwork’s Madagascar, The Pacifier starring Vin Diesel, Doom starring The Rock and finally the remake of House of Wax starring Paris Hilton, plus The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, which is one of the greatest movies ever made!!

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl is a very unique film about dreams. I know this because the word “dream” takes up about 60% of the film’s dialogue. The other 40% goes to bad puns and superb line delivery by all of the actors. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to set out this review as this movie is so special to me because the more I think about this thing that they call a movie, the more fascinated I am.

Sharkboy and Lavagirl comes from the brilliant mind of Robert Rodriguez’s seven year old son. In most superhero movies the origin story is the most boring part of the movie, but Sharkboy and Lavagirl make it as exciting as the rest of the movie. We start off with Sharkboy, a name his father gives him because he likes to feed the sharks. Unfortunately a tornado hits the research station forcing the father and son to escape in separate rafts. The boy is then raised by sharks, in the ways of the shark. This also involves somehow growing gills, a fake set of teeth and growing an actual fin! (Are you still with me?)

Some time later, Sharkboy meets the real protagonist of the movie Max, a boy who also happens to be Sharkboy’s creator, not that he really questions it. Later on the two boys meet a pink haired fire girl who Max just happens to guess is called Lavagirl. The two have to leave Max as their home planet needs them. It’s apparently so cool it’ll make you drool – Planet Drool.

Around this point we’re introduced to Max’s teacher George Lopez aka Mr Electricdad and future supervillain Linus who are easily the best characters in the movie. Linus is a real villain because there’s a scene where he and his goons are chasing Max and all he does is point to tell his henchmen where to go. Mr Electricdad tries to rival Linus by being more over the top than him in the best scene in the entire movie.

The rest of the movie is a trip through the bizarre world of Planet Drool. How this planet works seems to be made up as it goes along and the whole planet looks worse than the video game world from Spy Kids 3-D. Speaking of which, the movie likes to throw 3-D things in your face and once again I chose to skip that rubbish so it looks kind of dumb.

Back to the movie. Darkness has taken over Planet Drool and only Max can save it by dreaming, I think. (Just go with it and it will all make sense.) Sharkboy and Lavagirl are his protectors and what their deal is doesn’t make any sense. Sharkboy can shoot water, eat anything, sing and run really fast, but can’t do anything that a shark can do. Lavagirl is a girl with no origin story and Max can’t help her because after one bad day he doesn’t remember any of the dreams he wrote in his journal. They are also being chased by the evil Mr Electric who has one of the best character designs I have ever seen. Mr Electric tries to rival Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr Freeze by spouting out some of the best electric puns ever conceived by man.

I don’t view this movie as a normal movie, but more like The Room where it’s the creator’s strange masterpiece, but to everyone else it makes zero sense and they either make their own enjoyment out of it, or they see it as complete trash. I really can’t find it in myself to dislike anything about this movie as by the end of it I was thoroughly entertained. After finishing this review I realised Sharkboy and Lavagirl is probably my favourite guilty pleasure movie. I’m not joking when I say do yourself a favour and watch the strangest kids movie to hit the big screen.

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What’s wrong with you? Oh buddy where do I begin?

Our next movie is called Shorts. Probably Robert Rodriguez’s least known kid’s movie and according to Wikipedia this movie will celebrate it’s 10th anniversary in just a few days. (Congrats!)

Shorts is a tale about some children living in this small town run by this guy who’s a cross between Steve Jobs and Mr Monopoly. He’s gloating over this new gadget called the Black Box, which is literally a black box that transforms into anything and can do anything. Unfortunately the Black Box is up against some hefty competition like the purple pyramid, the iPhone and a magic wishing rock that obeys your every command.

The magic rock comes into the hands of some children who of course irresponsibly use the rock for their own selfish desires and in the process ruin everyone else’s day. It’s a silly misadventure type movie that you would expect to find on Nickelodeon, but what makes this movie special is that the narrator kid doesn’t remember the order of the movie for some unknown reason and it’s split up into shorts. When I was a kid this was the first time I had ever seen something like this and I thought it was ground breaking. Telling it out of order is probably the saving grace of the movie as without that it would probably be fairly forgettable.

Let’s talk about the rock. This is a “be careful what you wish for” type movie. You tell the rock what you want and it will do it. (As long as you say the word wish somewhere in your command.) There is no limit to how many wishes you have, until the very end where the movie needs a forced message about how greedy and selfish we all are. There are multiple instances when a character who isn’t aware of the wishing rock accidentally makes a wish and it’s very dumb. Another thing is that everyone is very clumsy with the rock and it keeps falling into the hands of people who you really wouldn’t want anywhere near a thing with that much power. Like the main kid just leaves it on his bedside table for everyone to see and take instead of hiding it in his pocket or up his bum!

This is definitely the most tame movie visually, compared to some of Rodriguez’s other work. We have seen terrifying kid show monsters to an even more terrifying bubble man and finally to booger monsters. I think I prefer Planet Drool to normal day America, that being said, this story feels the closest to reality of all of Rodriguez’s movies. If the tone and characters weren’t like a Saturday morning cartoon then I could definitely see this happening in real life.

All of the characters in this movie are very stereotypical. There’s the main kid who’s weird because he has imaginary friends and wears braces. Because of this he’s constantly bullied by the rich snobby kids. This is where we meet Helga, I mean Helvetica, and she’s the most dynamic character in the whole movie though it doesn’t stop her from been annoying. There’s also a few other weird kids that are way weirder than the main kid and for some reason they don’t get bullied. My favourite characters in the movie are James Spader as the evil business man and William H Macy as the germaphobe as they are both so entertainingly over the top.

Overall it’s popcorn entertainment. There are some genuinely entertaining scenes in this movie, some really silly stuff, some illogical inconsistencies that I imagine only I would care about and some gross out humour for the kiddies. Telling it out of order was the right call and the shorts themselves were a lot of fun. My favourites being the unrelated short at the beginning and the dinner party. The only bad one was the last short, which had the forced message and I felt came way too abruptly. This is no Spy Kids and it’s not as special as Sharkboy and Lavagirl but it’s a good family flick and that’s about it. Don’t watch it on your own.

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The bigger the crime, the better the time!

We’ve come full circle with Spy Kids: All the Time in the World and what a disappointing climax to this mini-series. It’s been 10 years since the original movie came out so it makes sense to cash in on some cheap nostalgia while also introducing a new generation to the world of Spy Kids. I think I just summed up the entire purpose of this movie. Goodnight everybody!

I said earlier we follow a new set of characters, but in the end it’s basically a retelling of the original Spy Kids movie. We’re introduced to Juni and Carmen’s aunty, Jessica Alba. For such a family orientated series where she’s been and which Cortez parent she’s related to are questions you’re not expected to ask. Anyway, Jessica Alba is hiding her spy life from her husband and two step kids. The kids are about the same as the original kids except they’re more on top of things and more annoying. I like the refreshing idea of the dad being an amateur spy investigator, I just wish it was better utilised.

Just like the original Spy Kids it doesn’t take long for the kids to be involved with step-mummy’s spy life. Once again more new gadgets for the kids to mess around with, but unfortunately they’re pretty lacklustre. There aren’t any ridiculous gadgets this time around, they are more straightforward. The boy has power gloves and the girl has a prank kit, which looks pretty useless unless your preparing for a Home Alone type of invasion. I guess the coolest thing out of it is a robot dog who’s also voiced by Ricky Gervais. Sounds awesome, right? I wish! Ricky Gervais is a great comedian, but in this he’s incredibly unfunny and I despised him less than 5 minutes after he was introduced.

If you haven’t guessed, the movie is all about time. The word “time” is smothering you to death about as much as the word dream was in Sharkboy and Lavagirl. The message about making time for loved ones is a really good message but it shouldn’t be brought up every five seconds. Sharkboy and Lavagirl also did this, but it wasn’t as obnoxious and was a bit less obvious than in this movie.

Let’s talk about the main villain, The Timekeeper. The twist of his real identity is so obvious that the Google description of this movie doesn’t take the reveal seriously. I appreciate that Rodriguez took the time to give The Timekeeper an understandable motivation for wanting to endanger the entire world. This is probably the best scene in the movie when The Timekeeper is telling his sad story of being frozen in time and forced to watch his father slowly grow old and die while helplessly trying to unfreeze his son. It’s great stuff, but unfortunately this is saved for the end of the movie, when it’s too late to feel sorry for this guy. There are also other aspects of this reveal that don’t make sense for those paying attention.

We already discussed unfunny Ricky Gervais and there is also untasteful toilet humour and a lot of time related puns, which yeah, made me cringe! If the humour isn’t for you, don’t worry, there is some nostalgia crammed in there along with bringing back the original Spy Kids although they don’t really do anything and they don’t change throughout the course of the movie. It’s Carmen and Juni phoning in a cheap appearance.

Those last two movies were fun and I enjoyed myself, unlike this one where I was more annoyed than having a good time. Since Shorts, and very much so now, I feel like Robert Rodriguez is just cashing in for a quick buck because the passion and heart that was in those previous movies is now non-existent. It’s a good thing this movie wasn’t that successful, then maybe Alita: Battle Angel would have been even more insufferable.

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So dream a better dream, then work to make it real.

It was a lot of fun revisiting these movies and I hoped you also enjoyed this little nostalgia trip through the glorious decade that was the 2000’s. That’s it for Robert Rodriguez related movies as I’m drawing my eye to other hopefully as fun projects for you faithful readers. I have been The Blog Complainer, signing out.

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