Making the Grades
Every parent has secrets from their children (like where they've hidden the Easter candy), but Gregorio (Antonio Bandera) and Ingrid Cortez (Carla Gugino) have a big one: They are former top international spies. After marriage and the arrival of their children, Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara), the couple changed their lifestyle by turning in their guns and disguises for high tech computers and desk jobs.
However, when their secret agent pals begin disappearing, the retired twosome are sent to check out a highly suspicious character, Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming), the eccentric host of a children's television program. Within minutes of embarking on their mission, they are kidnapped and taken to Floop's rock island castle where the oddball captor and his Minion (Tony Shalhoub) demand an old invention of Gregorio's. Discovering their parents' predicament, Carmen and Juni suit up to save the day as Spy Kids.
Although I dislike many of the recent movies where children are left to avert a world crisis with only minimal intervention from incompetent adults, this delicious fantasy is more palatable for several reasons. The Cortez parents are involved with their kids. They still tell bedtime stories, attend parent-teacher interviews and worry about leaving their youngsters even in the hands of a capable adult. While Carmen and Juni bicker, tease and grumble like most minors, over time a healthy respect for one another develops. They tackle bad guys without swaggering attitudes or smart mouth remarks (although there is plenty of slapstick style violence included), and old feuds are examined as the value of marriage and family are highly endorsed.
Billed as family fare, the inclusion of mutated, gibbering TV characters that resemble Teletubbies gone bad and other fantastical Floop creations are too scary for most preschool viewers, but the gobs of cool spy stuff like instant set cement and electroshock bubblegum will leave the older child yearning for their own secret agent paraphernalia. Hearty sprinklings of jokes even parents will enjoy are also appreciated in this action-packed movie about saving the family.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Spy Kids.
Gregorio and Ingrid aren’t the only ones with secrets in this movie. What are Carmen and Juni’s secrets? How does keeping secrets from one another hurt their family? How does sharing their secrets bring their family closer together?
Carmen says, “Keeping a family together is difficult and that’s a mission worth fighting for.” What do you think are some of the challenges families face, and how can they be solved?