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Critic Bob McCabe on BBC Radio 4's Front Row
"I actually love this film, I've now seen it twice"
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Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Film goes spy high
Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino
One final mission for the retired spy agents
By BBC News Online's Charles Bodsworth

Perhaps it is the presence of Antonio Banderas, or maybe it is because the kids are scarily realistic.

Either way, this is one film that just might appeal to parents as much as their children.

Gregorio Cortez, played by Banderas, and his wife, Ingrid (Carla Gugino), are secret agents who come out of retirement to go on one last mission.

They are a little rusty though and it turns out to be their own children, the spy kids of the title, who have to save them.

The film is pure escapist fantasy, with all the usual trappings of a spy blockbuster - high speed chases, an insane megalomaniac determined to take over the world, evil sidekicks and fantastic gadgets.

The on screen presence of Banderas should keep mums happy
Gregorio Cortez (Antonio Banderas) is saved by the Spy Kids
In fact, any parents desperate to escape from their children during the Easter holidays may feel a twinge of envy as Banderas and his co-star Carla Gugino return to the glamorous life they led before having kids.

Kids, on the other hand, will love the idea that it is they and not the adults who are out to save the world.

But the film also has a witty edge to it. Any parent or sibling who has been on a long-distance car journey will recognise the fight between the Cortez children.

But as these are spy kids, their fight happens in a supersonic jet instead of a car, ending in a spectacular crash.

The director does not just have family life in his sights though, because the movie's arch criminal turns out to be the presenter behind the most popular children's show.

A man bent on world domination by releasing robot replicas of all the children of world leaders.

It is a shame that the director cannot resist a schmaltzy ending

Anyone who has ever suspected that a sinister intelligence must lie behind the Tellytubbies or Tweenies will enjoy seeing their counterparts in this film being blown away.

It is a shame that the director cannot resist a schmaltzy ending, in which we learn that keeping a family together is "the most difficult mission of all".

But then again, he does make up for it with one of the film's many surprises - blink and you will miss a certain famous actor's appearance as the spymaster in the final sequence.

For a film that attempts the nearly impossible, keeping both parents and children happy, this movie is a fantastic effort.

Spy Kids is on release from 13 April.

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See also:

02 Apr 01 | Film
Spy Kids shoot to top
09 Apr 01 | Film
Spy Kids stay on top
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