A movie franchise, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez
(yes, that Robert Rodriguez
), which is about kid spies
An original trilogy was created from 2001 to 2003, focusing on Carmen and Juni Cortez, a Brother-Sister Team
of Preteen Superspies
, whose adventures came to resemble spying less and less as the series went along. In the first movie, they discover their seemingly normal parents are actually retired spies and set out to rescue them from a Mad Scientist
who moonlights as the host of Juni's favorite TV show.Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams
introduces a rival team of kid spies, whose dad ends up being the Big Bad
, and featured a plot taking place on a tropical island with a mysterious power. The third installment, Spy Kids 3D: Game Over
, was a 3-D Movie
set inside a video game
created by a madman to Take Over the World
. Game Over
is widely seen as an utter disaster by fans of the first two films and is often regarded as the point when the series Jumped the Shark
. The critics agreed, with Rotten Tomatoes
giving the first film a 93% rating, the second film a 74% rating, and the third film a 44% rating.
Eight years later in 2011, Rodriguez saw fit to continue the series with Spy Kids: All The Time in the World
. The story this time focuses on a new pair of siblings whose step-mother is a retired spy for the OSS. When she get into trouble, the kids find out her secret and set out to save her with some assistance from a now grown Carmen and Juni
. Yes, it's rehashing the first movie's plot
, but in a way that brings everything around full circle. However, the film suffered from inevitable sequelitis
and wasn't well received as critics trashed it once it hit the box office with Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 23%, even less
than the third movie.
The character of Machete originated in this series, and a spoof of what he'd look like as a B-movie action hero later appeared in one of the Grindhouse
trailers. That trailer was eventually made into Machetenote
, a full-length exploitation flick parody. Alhough Rodriquez planned Machete
starring Trejo long before Spy Kids
started production, the project sat stagnant
for years. In the meantime Rodriquez decided to insert a more family friendly version of the character in the Spy Kids movies. Which means that, yes, Machete
and Spy Kids
share a universe. Try watching these films the same way again.
- 3D Movie: Read the title of the third movie.
- Absentee Actor: it can be seen, in the first movie, that only Isador "Machete" Cortez attends Gregorio and Ingrid's wedding; there's no sign of their sister Marissa. This, out of universe, is because she wasn't cast yet - or even written into the Franchise - but in universe it is unknown as to why she did not attend their wedding.
- Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: In the fourth film, Cecil is constantly called SAY-sil (which comes out sounding like see-saw) except by the British dog, which pronounces it more correctly as say-SIL, even if it should be seh-SIL.
- The Ace: Subverted in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. An overly heroic super messiah comes in at the last minute, gives a rousing speech on how everyone should work together to win the game and singlehandedly bursts through the giant gates. He is instantly shot in the chest and loses all of his 99 lives. Made even funnier by the fact that he's played by Elijah Wood, and instead of having an actual name, he's simply known as "The Guy."
- Action Mom: Ingrid Cortez and Marissa Wilson.
- Advertised Extra: Watch a commercial for an upcoming airing of Spy Kids 3D on Disney Channel. Disney advertises it as "featuring" Emily Osment, since she has become more well known thanks to Hannah Montana after the movie came out, but she only appears in a brief conversation at the beginning and another brief appearance in the ending.
- Which is a bit ridiculous considering there were quite a few bigger name actors to invoke Billing Displacement for.
- Agents Dating: The first movie starts with their mother telling the story of the two spies who fell in love, with several dates...in which they are some distance from each other since they're on opposing sides.
- A Head at Each End: A sea serpent-like critter from the second film.
- Alliterative Name: Gary and Gertie Giggles
- Not just those two. Carmen Cortez, anyone?
- Wilbur Wilson, too.
- And Danger D'Amo.
- Antagonist Title: The other meaning of the title of the first film, referring to the robotic children that Floop constructed.
- The Anticipator: When the Cortezes escape their imprisonment and start roaming Floop's lair, they fall through a trap door which leads to where Floop is waiting for them, dinner spread out, and was timing how long it took them to escape. He thought it would be a little sooner.
- Anti-Hero: Juni is a Type II in the fourth film.
- Arc Words: "The third brain lives" in the first film.
- Back for the Finale - Every major character from the first two movies comes back for the "big fight" at the end of the third one.
- And some minor characters as well, like Dinky Winks and his son.
- Badass Family: The Cortezes - we're talking about a family where the dad is Antonio Banderas, the uncle is Danny Trejo, and Grandpa is Ricardo Montalbán! and the aunt is Jessica Alba who is active throughout her pregnancy including while in labor.
- Badass Grandpa: Again, Grandpa is Ricardo Montalbán - what did you expect?
- Badass Mustache - When Antonio Banderas is in "spy" mode, he wears a (fake) moustache. When he's in "dad" mode, he has no moustache. Fake Uncle Felix does things the other way round.
- Baleful Polymorph: Apparently, this is how Floop's "Fooglies" are created.
- Bar Slide: How Gregorio proposes to Ingrid - sliding the ring along the railing of the Eiffel Tower
- Bare Your Midriff: Carmen wears an outfit that does such at the beginning of the second movie, up to and including the dinner scene. She also does this in the credits.
- Battle Discretion Shot: From the first movie: "Carmen? Juni? Close your eyes. We don't want you to see this." *mass of punching and kicking off camera*
- Brother-Sister Team
- Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff": At one point Juni refers to the half gorilla, half tarantula creature that's been following him as a centaur. Its actual name seems to be a "spider monkey".
- Call Back: Several in the fourth film.
- For example, when Rebecca and Cecil find out Marissa works for the OSS...
Rebecca: Impossible... she's not cool enough.
- And when the Wilsons and Carmen are surrounded by enemy agents at the hideout...
- Changeling Fantasy - Played with: The kids are raised by their real parents, but don't know they're spies until the first film. An "uncle" does turn out to be an agent assigned to protect their family, though.
- Chekhov's Rubber Band Machete Elastic Wonder
- Juni's Fooglie drawing, sort of. Minion forcibly transforms Gregorio into it, which lasts for all of 5 minutes.
- Child Hater- "It's good to be back, Alex. Let's never have children."
- Chickification: Carmen in the third film.
- The Chosen Zero: Third movie. "The Guy" - Juni has this kind of doubt...then later one guy shows up thinking he's the chosen one...and takes five steps and dies.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Alexander Minion
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The Timekeeper steps out of the frame after disabling the Armageddon device and is never seen again.
- Clark Kenting: The dad, hilariously, simply puts on a moustache for his spy disguise.
- Close on Title: The title card for the fourth movie appears before the final scene.
- Closer to Earth: The female members of the Giggles family are good; the male ones are evil.
- Collapsed Mid Speech: An entire mob of grown-ups pass out during a speech.
- Comically Missing the Point: Happens to Floop at least once.
Minion: You're spending too much time on this program, when you should be more concerned with our grand, diabolical plan
- Cool Car: In the first film, the Cortez parents own an SUV which has a lot of hidden gadgets and can turn into a submarine.
- Conspicuous CG: All over the place.
- The third movie has a really bad case of "Conspicuous 3D". Basically, they were banking on shoving 3D CGI in your face to sell the movie. You could make a Drinking Game out of watching the movie in 2D and taking a shot every time every time a blurry foreground object, clearly meant to be rendered in 3D, blocks half the screen.
- Cross Over: Danny Trejo has stated that the Machete Cortez in Machete is what the Machete Cortez from Spy Kids does when he's not taking care of the kids. As Robert Rodriguez intended to make a Machete movie years before he was able to, he inserted a more family-friendly version of the character into Spy Kids in the meantime, so this is technically canonical.
- Dangerous Device Disposal Debacle: Before Mr. Cortez was a spy, he also worked in research and development making an AI computer referred to as the Third Brain. He was told to destroy it but admits he didn't want to and is shown switching it with a walnut and smashing that while putting the real brain in his pocket. "The Third Brain Still Lives" is a key plot point because Floop got ahold of it and used it to build his Spy Kids robots.
- He's briefly seen working on another brain in the third film, but dramatically smashes his entire lab table when his family calls him for help.
- Deadpan Snarker: In this franchise, try and find one kid that isn't this. Good luck with that.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Carmen goes through a somewhat low-key version of this in the first film.
- Description Cut: Early in 3, Juni receives miniature sharks as a present from Romero. While he dangles his fingers in their fish bowl, he comes to the part of the letter where Romero says to not do anything foolish like dangle your fingers in a fish bowl full of sharks. Cue him yanking them out just as they leap to snap at his fingers.
- Depraved Kids' Show Host: Floop before his Heel-Face Turn
- Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: Ricardo Montalbán was actually a wheelchair user at this stage of his life. Robert Rodriguez specifically wrote the role for him.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Floop's songs. Anything that happens in Floop's Virtual Reality Room, really.
- Dolled-Up Installment: Spy Kids 3D: Game Over was originally planned as a stand-alone movie about children going inside a video game.
- Double Agent: Danger D'Amo, head of the OSS in Spy Kids 4D.
- Dragon Ascendant: Alexander Minion, following Floop's Heel-Face Turn.
- Embarrassing Password: The password to the base the kids find in the first movie turns out to be their names. Unfortunately...
- Even Evil Has Standards: "You hesitated.", "I had to - he's my son."
- Everybody Owns A Ford: Isuzus in the first movie, particularly glaring because the company's passenger line at that point had dwindled to nothing but mid-size SUVs
- Five-Man Band: Juni leads one in the third film.
- Follow the Leader: Agent Cody Banks
- Funbag Airbag : briefly averted in a gag about being given a lift by the pilot of a flying backpack... you face AWAY from the pilot....
- Funny Background Event: Tick Tock yelling at his agents after Baby Spy accosts him with unexpected crop dusting.
- Girlish Pigtails: Gerti Giggles has these, with operate as Helicopter Hair.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom The evil robot kids from the first film
- Gondor Calls for Aid: Third movie finale, which brought back nearly every character in the series.
- Goggles Do Something Unusual
- Government Agency of Fiction: The OSS, which in Real Life is a defunct organization that existed in the early 1940s.
- Happily Married: Gregorio and Ingrid, Grandpa and Grandma Cortez, and Wilbur and Marissa Wilson.
- Heel-Face Revolving Door: Donnagon. In the first movie he's a minor good guy (who spends most of the time as a Fooglie), in the second he's the Big Bad, and in the third he's back to being a good guy again.
- Heel-Face Turn Floop, a relatively unexpected twist in the first movie
- Donnogan Giggles has done this by the beginning of the third movie, as has The Toymaker by the end of the third and The Timekeeper by the end of the fourth. Also, Minion shows up on the kids' side at the end when they called everyone...
- In fact, the only villains to not end up on the good side are Mr. Lisp, Ms. Gradenko, and Tick Tock. Given the High Heel-Face Turn trope, it's unusual because out of all the villains in the series, the only female is one of the three who don't get redeemed.
- Held Gaze: Wilbur and Marissa Wilson have two between them, one right before The Big Damn Kiss at the end.
- Herald: "Uncle" Felix in the first movie
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Minion gets trapped in his own Baleful Polymorph machine at the climax of the first movie. He goes ahead and activates it anyway.
- Hurricane of Puns: Go on, make a Drinking Game out of taking a shot each time someone says something time-related in the fourth movie, and stay alive by the end of the film. We dare you.
- I Can Change My Beloved: Carmen has a crush on the rival bad boy spy and at one point insists she could change him. She appears to get over it by the end of the movie.
- I Fell for Hours: In the second movie.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Occasionally; a particularly painful one by Donnagon in the second film: "This should be pain...and simple."
- Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Gregorio has one in the first film
- Insistent Terminology: Cecil and Rebecca are not Marissa's kids. They are her stepkids.
- I Work Alone: Juni in the fourth film.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Machete
- Jet Pack
- Just a Kid: Rebecca and Cecil are instructed to stay behind with Argonaut and Spy-Baby as the rest of the OSS infiltrates The Timekeeper's hideout. They understandably mistake it for being grounded.
- Justified Title: "Spy Kids" has a double meaning in the first film
- Kick the Dog: Or at least Squash the Bug....
- Kid Hero
- Kirk Summation: Used by Valentin in the third movie when he forgives the Toymaker for putting him in a wheelchair and by Rebecca and Cecil in the fourth movie when they convince The Timekeeper that his plans to travel back in time are only wreaking havoc on all the time in the world.
- Large Ham: Sylvester Stallone in the third movie
- Floop definitely deserves a mention.
- Really, all of the adults in all of the movies. They're clearly having an immense amount of fun, which is a big part of what makes the movie so entertaining.
- Last-Second Word Swap: "Oh shi...take mushrooms."
- Lethal Lava Land: Lampshaded in the third film.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared with the other films directed by Robert Rodriguez (Well, excluding The Adventures Of Shark Boy And Lava Girl and Shorts...)
- Literal Surveillance Bug: Ralph is a small robot bug who's primary function serves as a spy.
- Machete Mayhem: Machete
- Mad Scientist: Two of them - Floop and Romero.
- Manchild: The Big Bad of the first film, Floop.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Subverted. Carmen is attracted to Gary Giggles in the second movie, insisting that she could "change him", and her giving up on this is played as Character Development. Needless to say, shipping ensued anyway.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Romero's animals in the second film
- The Mole: Ms. Gradenko and, later on, Felix, though he was an unwilling case of it.
- Mundane Solution: The rubber band in the second film
- Most of the second movie, since none of their normal gadgets worked.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Subverted in the third film; Valentin deliberately releases the Toymaker from his virtual prison just so he could personally forgive him for paralyzing him
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Happens to the parents in the first movie.
- Numbered Sequels
- Overly Long Name: Carmen's full name is Carmen Elizabeth Juanita Echo Sky Brava Cortez, and Juni's is Juni Rocket Racer Rebel Cortez.
- Both of which are jokes in themselves. Rocket, Racer, and Rebel are the names of three of Rodriguez's sons.
- Parents in Distress
- Parent Service: The casting of the parents.
- Pink Means Feminine: Alexandra wears a pink sweater and then a pink dress.
- Precision F-Strike: Subverted by a Last-Second Word Swap, once in each of the first two movies. Done again by Carmen in the fourth film when she, Marissa, Rebecca, Cecil, and Spy-Baby are cornered by Tick Tock's agents.
Carmen: Oh, shit...take mushrooms.
- Pregnant Badass: Marissa, in the beginning of the fourth film, big time. She keeps fighting the bad guys, even after she starts feeling contractions.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: When the Carmen and Juni robots first show up in the first movie, Carmen repeatedly tries to beat up the solid metal robot Juni with her bare hands. This does not end well. Robot-Juni eventually writes her off and walks away in disinterest after she knocks herself out.
- Quicksand Sucks: Marissa, Carmen, and Juni would've been smothered in The Timekeeper's special hourglass sands had Carmen not had her atomic lipstick on hand.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Invoked by Juni in movie 2 when he claims to know ballet to impress Alexandria at the President's ball. Hilarity Ensues when the two start dancing.
- Reverse Polarity: The evil robot kids are turned good by inverting their binary code.
- In the second film, Gerti disables the amusement park ride in the opening by reversing the polarity, justifying it by saying that the ride works using electromagnets.
- Robot Buddy: Ralph, the Literal Spy Bug
- Sadistic Choice: Minion gets one near the end of the first movie, when he gets strapped in the Fooglie-creator; either he can activate it and wind up horribly disfigured, or he can not activate it and remain stuck in the basement, with no guarantee anyone will come back to help him. He chose to do the former.
- Samus is a Girl: Demetra in the third film.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Toymaker in the third movie.
- Shoe Phone: The second movie includes an advanced watch that does everything except tell time, since "there was no room left for the clock". Needless to say, The Rival has a more advanced version of the same device, with a clock.
- Sigil Spam: Most prominent in the second movie
- Shout-Out: Juni starts to chant the One Ring poem when he reaches for a cursed necklace in the second movie.
- In the outtakes, at one point he pulls it out, strokes it, and says, "My Precious."
- The Fooglies' song ("Floop is a madman, help us, save us") which can only be heard when played backwards, is probably a reference to The Beatles "Paul Is Dead" rumors, one of which includes a song that, when played backwards, sounds like it says "Paul is a dead man, miss him, miss him".
- Antonio Banderas fixing Juni's hair at the beginning of the second movie is probably a shout-out to him doing the same exact thing to his son in the film Four Rooms. Probably because that section of the film was directed by Robert Rodriguez as well.
- Spanner in the Works: Great job tossing your brother's tag in the trash, Carmen. You just single-handedly saved the world from the Armageddon device.
- Stop Copying Me: Juni uses this twice, with voices to match.
- Super Family Team
- Teen Superspy: Or in this case, preteen superspies
- Though Carmen is a Teen by the third film.
- Thermal Dissonance
- Unfortunate Names: Gary and Gerti Giggles? Even those poor kids who were named after the ESPN network would point and laugh.
- Unperson: Carmen considers her brother to be this at first in the fourth film. When he finally does show up, we find out exactly why... and it's not what you expect (i.e. he didn't pull a Face-Heel Turn; rather, it's a simple case of I Work Alone).
- Unwitting Pawn: The Timekeeper to Tick Tock.
- Villain Song: Floop gets one in the first film, written by Danny Elfman in his signature style. Subverted when it turns out he's not a villain at all.
- Wacky Racing: Included in the third film
- Wedding Smashers: The parents' wedding as seen in a Flashback from the first movie
- Wham Line: In 3D:
Carmen: Juni, the Toymaker is the one who put Grandpa in a wheelchair.
- White and Grey Morality: Almost none of the villains in the series stay evil.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Timekeeper.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Gary when Carmen turns on him
- Writers Cannot do Math: In the third movie, the accident which caused Grandpa's paralysis is said to have happened 30 years ago. When talking to the Toy Maker, Grandpa says that his condition made him miss his daughter's birth. Even assuming Ingrid had her first child at 18, that places Carmen at 12 — far younger than she actually is.