Making the Grades
Imagination is the thing childhood and movies are made of. That may be why Director Robert Rodriguez uses a story idea conceived by his seven-year-old son as the basis for his latest tale.
Animated electrical cords, rivers of warm milk and rafts made of chocolate chip cookies are all part of the dream world the film's hero, Max (Cayden Boyd), creates in his mind while sleeping. In the morning he faithfully scribbles down all his nighttime adventures, most of which include two pint-sized superheroes, Shark Boy (Taylor Lautner) and Lava Girl (Taylor Dooley).
Shark Boy is rescued by a school of man-eating fish after a terrible ocean storm. The sharks adopt him, raising him as one of their own. As a result of his extended time in the water, he develops fins, gills and a row of razor-sharp teeth, as well as a shark-like temper. Lava Girl has flaming purple hair, melts things on contact, and throws globs of gooey lava from her fingertips.
For Max, they are friends that help him escape the painful aspects of his real world, where he is bullied at school and subjected to his parents' constant bickering at home. But to Max's teacher (George Lopez) and the rest of the students in his fourth grade class, Shark Boy and Lava Girl are just figments of a highly active imagination.
Then one day the highly disputed duo makes an appearance in Max's classroom. They beg him to come with them to save Planet Drool. Racing through the galaxy in a shark-shaped spaceship, they arrive at a dreary looking globe under attack by a nightmarish fiend.
Using 3-D to craft the fantasy scenes, Rodriguez relies on a ploy similar to the video game world featured in the third installment of Spy Kids (which he also directed). However, this time the effects are limited and much of the action between the characters fails to utilize the 3-D capabilities.
Luckily the script is free of many content concerns, with only moments of mild, rude humor. Most of the violence is contained to brief outbursts by the sharp-toothed boy and some fiery antics of his hotheaded friend. But the movie is equally short on storyline.
While the film introduces some wonderful concepts about the positive power of dreams and the work needed to make them come true, it fails to do much more than just recite those platitudes. Before long the script sounds more like a bunch of inspirational quotes strung together than a plot.
Admittedly, many younger audience members likely won't notice the cliches and will be perfectly entertained with the wildly creative world of Max's dreams. But The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D may leave parents nodding off--hopefully without the drool.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D.
Why were the other students in the classroom reluctant to believe Max’s story about Shark Boy and Lava Girl? Why did Max’s teacher encourage him to make new friends at school?
Max writes down all his dreams in a little journal. Do you have a place you record your dreams? Is there one dream you repeatedly have? What did Max’s dreams help him discover about himself?