Sometimes, I make the mistake of assuming that Robert Rodriguez and I are both fixated upon children’s movies for the same reason. Presumably, Robbie Rod started directing such films because he’s got six kids, yet most of them are now old enough that this can’t possibly be the reason that he continues to do so. Likewise, I started writing reviews of children’s movies (not only because everyone else hates doing it but also) because of my own kid, who is now ten-years-old and still into it to a degree; yet now I actually enjoy doing so … most of the time, anyway. Of course, no one would have ever suspected that I’d end up doing such a thing. You see, I’m a rather profane individual, which is something that I’ve always suspected of the somewhat subversive Rodriguez as well. The thing is, I really feel like I should understand where Rodriguez is coming from with his children’s films, but the unfortunate truth is that I don’t know what the fuck is going through his mind. Why does he write such frenetic yet unentertaining adventures and terrorize his casts of characters with pseudo-brilliant concepts such as a Homicidal Booger? Perhaps Rodriguez doesn’t know what the fuck is going on either, but does it really matter if he does?
Unfortunately, these are the things that keep me awake. Rodriguez used to be such a promising, talented young director. Maybe that creature is still buried inside somewhere, but the fact of the matter is that the man has only regressed as he’s grown older. Now, he’s launched the fourth installment of a well-depleted franchise; admittedly, the first two movies weren’t entirely insufferable and were delivered with a certain charm, yet the third movie should’ve been more than enough to kill all thoughts of an additional effort.
With Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 4D, Rodriguez introduces us to former super-secret spy Marissa Wilson (Jessica Alba, still a horrible actress), who has settled into married life with an inept TV presenter husband, Wilbur (Joel McHale), and their baby girl. Of course, Wilber’s children, Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook), cannot stand their new stepmom and execute all manner of lame practical jokes to slowly drive Marissa nuts. And naturally, once the kids figure out that stepmom is a semi-retired secret agent, she instantly becomes cool. Then, the little cretins are all too happy to assist Marissa when she is called back to duty to defeat one of her former enemies, the Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven, ha!), a megalomaniac intent on using his special Armageddon Device to speed up time, thereby pushing humanity ever closer to certain demise. Also present to pass on the proverbial torch are the Spy Kids from the first three movies, Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara), who are all grown up now. Added to the mix are a couple of Spy Babies (Belle and Genny Solorzano), Uncle Machete (Danny Trejo, who else?), and Ricky Gervais as the voice of an animatronic terrier that tells unintelligible jokes and poops a lot. It’s all very headache inducing and, quite frankly, not worth even a few moments of your time.
Rodriguez seems to believe that tossing crap out into the audience through “eye-popping” 3D and presenting a so-called “misunderstood” villain is enough to redeem the film’s almost nonexistent story, which is filled with such inconsistencies as a character who wants to travel back in time despite the fact that he’s consciously pushing time forward. When the Timekeeper tells his foes, “If you have no interest in being a family you don’t deserve any time,” it’s supposed to be a profound moment, but it’s damn near unnoticeable in the chaotic mess of a plot and pun-filled script. Those audience members who are shelling out for the 3D premium (and I had no choice in the matter) are also “treated” to the fourth-dimensional Aroma-Scope, a scratch-and-sniff card embedded with eight smells that all blend into a homogenous mixture of artificial fruit and vomit-soaked cardboard. Perhaps it would be better used as last-ditch toilet paper, since Rodriguez is so clearly fascinated with all things butt related.
In a mixed blessing and curse, Alan Cumming is conspicuously missing from this fourth Spy Kids movie. Never again will I complain about his history of crappy movies because he was sorely missed here, and perhaps he could’ve kicked Piven “in the clocks,” and it might have actually been funny … if only for a moment. Meanwhile, we are left to cope with Alba in what is hopefully one of her last Hollywood roles. She sure is purty standing there in six-inch heels and a leather ensemble, but she comes off as utterly pathetic while trying to kick even the least formidable ass, which is essentially the material from which this movie is made. Mister Rodriguez needs to get his act together and start making real movies again.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.