Film review: New 'Spy Kids' flick just like its Aromascope gimmick, it stinks

August 22, 2011|By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail

It's hard to believe that "Spy Kids" was once a franchise with a lot of potential. I actually really liked the 2001 original. It had a funny script, the actors had good chemistry, and Alan Cumming was a memorable villain.  

The first sequel was a disappointment and the second sequel was even worse. Now comes "Spy Kids: All the Time in the World" and it's the worst one yet. Any charm that the series might have once has is long gone and the result is rather painful.  

We get a fresh set of Spy Kids for this installment. Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook) are the stepchildren of Marissa Wilson (Jessica Alba). Marissa was a top spy working for D'Amo (Jeremy Piven), but she quit to take care of her stepchildren and have a baby with her new husband, Wilbur (Joel McHale, the man who turns my frown upside down every week on "The Soup").  She works hard to build a relationship with the kids, but their hearts are still with their late mother and they won't have any of it.  

Because of a necklace that Marissa gave Rebecca, the kids are soon sucked into a plot masterminded by the evil Timekeeper (also Jeremy Piven, who plays several other roles in the film). They soon discover that their stepmother is a spy and in fact her niece and nephew were the original Spy Kids. We get cameos from Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara, neither of whom have aged well. The new Spy Kids get their hands on some old gear, and in no time they are humanity's last hope.

They are aided by a talking dog who I believe is also a robot named Argonaut (Ricky Gervais, his "explain the joke" style not welcome here). Wilbur, meanwhile, hosts a TV show about catching spies even though he's an incompetent searcher and oblivious to the spy living in his house.  

The humor is the kind you'll find in a typical bad kids' movie. Bodily functions are played for laughs, especially when they involve the baby. Rebecca is fond of playing pranks, which usually result in victims getting covered in something gross. The siblings (both sets) constantly argue with each other, and even the dog points out that it gets old quickly. And there are lots of slapstick gags where people get knocked down The only thing that's halfway funny is Marissa undertaking a mission while very pregnant, and it's only funny because it's so wrong.  

The film has an Aromascope gimmick attached to it. You get a card with eight numbered boxes, which you are instructed to scratch at various points in the film. In theory, you are supposed to smell what the characters are smelling (bacon, salad dressing, disgusting stuff). All eight boxes smelled like toothpaste to me. The guy sitting next to me said he couldn't get his to work at all. The film fails to stimulate your sense of smell, but maybe I can help stimulate your sense of taste.  Eat a piece of popcorn every time you think the movie is stupid. You'll be down to the bare kernels before you know it.  

"Spy Kids: All the Time in the World" is a miserable installment of a franchise known for increasingly bad installments. The humor is terrible, but I was able to take it somewhat in stride. That's how bad "The Smurfs" was — it makes movies like this seem less painful by comparison. As for the Aromascope, it's unnecessary, but there is one good thing about it. I now have a good excuse to say that the movie stinks.    

One and a Half Stars out of Five.  

"Spy Kids: All the Time in the World" is rated PG for mild action and rude humor. Its running time is 100 minutes.  

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