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Film / Spy Kids

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"My parents can't be spies; they're not cool enough!"
Carmen Cortez

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. Works in the main series include:

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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. Although Rodriguez planned Machete starring Trejo long before Spy Kids started production, the project sat stagnant for years. In the meantime, Rodriguez 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.

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The Spy Kids franchise has the following recurring tropes:

  • 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.
    • Devlin doesn't appear in the second film, as a new director for OSS is chosen to replace him, and is in fact, never even mentioned. In the third film he reappears as the president of the United States. While in the film it's explained that after retiring from his position in the OSS, he ran for president as he wanted to be in a position of power that was public instead of the secret one he previously held, the real life reasoning is that Rodriguez couldn't afford to have George Clooney on screen for more than three minutes of screentime.
  • Action Mom: Ingrid Cortez and Marissa Wilson.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Carmen Cortez.
    • Gary and Gertie Giggles
    • Wilbur Wilson, too.
    • And Danger D'Amo.
  • Back for the Finale: Every major character from the first two movies come 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 Montalban! And the aunt is Jessica Alba who is active throughout her pregnancy including while in labor.
  • Badass Grandpa: Again, Grandpa is Ricardo Montalban - what did you expect?
  • Battle Discretion Shot:
    • In the first film, Ingrid tells Carmen and Juni to close their eyes so they don't see the fight.
    • In the fourth film, Cecil turns off the lights before proceeding to knock down a bunch of Mooks. All we see is his glowing gloves punching everywhere.
  • Brother-Sister Team:
    • Carmen and Juni.
    • Rebecca and Cecil in the fourth film.
  • Censor Box: President Devlin wears one during video transmissions in the first and third movie.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The kids' daily exercises at a home jungle gym makes them physically adept when they have to enter a mission for real.
    • Juni's love of Floop's show. His Broken Pedestal speech to Floop convinces the latter to make a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Juni's Fooglie drawing, sort of. Minion forcibly transforms Gregorio into it, which lasts for all of 5 minutes.
    • Electric bubblegum.
    • Machete Elastic Wonder in the second film.
  • Close on Title: The title card for the fourth movie appears before the final scene.
  • 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.
  • Crossover: 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.
  • Demoted to Extra: Everyone, minus Carmen and Juni in the third film; they themselves take a back seat to the new Spy Kids introduced in the fourth film.
  • Dirty Cop: More like Dirty OSS Agents, that are a running theme in the franchise.
    • Ms. Gradenko is one in the first film, serving as a Double Agent for Floop actually Minion.
    • In the second film Donnagan and Felix are this, which breaks Juni's faith in the OSS.
  • Double Agent:
    • Ms. Gradenko in the first film. She drops the act rather quickly.
    • Danger D'Amo, head of the OSS in Spy Kids 4D.
  • Easily Forgiven: All of the villains (Excluding Lisp and Ms. Gredenko) are almost instantly forgiven despite their part in schemes that likely would've thrown the whole world into disarray. Particularly noteworthy is Grandpa's forgiveness of the Toymaker, right after discussing all the things he missed in life due to the injury he caused him. They've got nothing on Donnagon though, who is still allowed to work for the OSS under the watch of his wife even after his betrayal and attempted murder of the Cortezes in the second film.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Mr. Lisp has a son; Floop uses a robot double of "Johnny" to demonstrate the power of the "spy kids".
    • Donnagan loves his children, and is afraid of his wife .
  • Everybody Lives: Nobody dies in the series, with the exception of Danger's father.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first film, Mr. Lisp hesitates to attack a robot double that matches his son to a tee, which ends up costing him. Later on, Ingrid and Gregori do a Double Take when they see Carmen and Juni's robot doubles, with similar results.
    • Minion during the demonstration to Lisp gives a lot of cues to Floop. When he gets the Third Brain, he uses the spy kids to depose Floop and trap him in The Virtual Room.
    • From the second film: courtesy of Felix, "I said I'm not your uncle!"
  • 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....
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The OSS, which in Real Life is a defunct organization that existed in the early 1940s. (That OSS is a precursor to the CIA.)
  • 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. It's mentioned this is a recurring thing for him.
  • 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.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Occasionally; a particularly painful one by Donnagon in the second film: "This should be pain...and simple."
  • In Love with the Mark: Gregorio and Ingrid.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Machete.
  • Jet Pack
    • In the first movie, Carmen and Juni find some jet packs in the safehouse.
    • They get rocket shoes in the second movie, which they use to navigate the island once they remove the Transmooker device.
  • Justified Title:
    • "Spy Kids" is the name of the child robots Floop creates in the first film.
    • In the second film, the Spy Kids are the new OSS Division.
    • Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over takes place in a video game called Game Over.
  • Kid Hero
  • Kirk Summation:
    • Used by Valentin in the third movie when he forgives the Toymaker for putting him in a wheelchair.
    • Rebecca and Cecil give one 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 as the Toymaker 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."
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared with the other films directed by Robert Rodriguez (Well, excluding The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl and Shorts...)
  • Machete Mayhem: Machete.
  • Mad Scientist: Two of them - Floop and Romero.
  • 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. Doesn't help that Gary immediately rushes to save her from a giant monkey robot in the third film.
  • The Mole: Ms. Gradenko and, later on, Felix, though he was an unwilling case of it.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • Seems to be a running theme at the OSS; the office belonging to the head of the agency being a desk sitting atop a high-rise platform which is only reachable by moving steps, all within the center of a large chasm.
    • The OSS lab in the third film is equally egregious, with dozens of "cubicles" jutting out from the walls for several stories upward with zero room to move or any practical way to get down. Even worse, they're not enclosed.
  • Numbered Sequels
  • Overly Long Spanish 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 significant jokes:
    • Rocket, Racer, and Rebel are the names of three of Rodriguez's sons.
    • Carmen's full name is the password to their parents' safe house.
  • Parent Service: The casting of the parents.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
    • 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.
    • In the third film, after Juni asks why every game has lava in it. Francis corrects him, telling him that "there's no lava in Halo or Metroid it's molten magma."
    • Miss Gradenko is named after a song by The Police.
    • Juni's wrist countdown timer in Game Over greatly resembles the one Snake Plissken had in Escape from New York.
  • Super Family Team
  • Teen Superspy: Or in this case, preteen superspies.
    • Though Carmen is a teenager by the third film.
  • Trilogy Creep: The fourth movie was released eight years after the third one, though it features different kids and Carmen and Juni are both Kid Hero All Grown-Up.


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