Follow TV Tropes


Film / Spy Kids

Go To

"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:


The Spy Kids franchise has the following recurring tropes:

  • Alliterative Name:
    • Carmen Cortez.
    • Gary and Gertie Giggles
    • Fegan Floop
    • 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 Montalbán! And the aunt is Jessica Alba who is active throughout her pregnancy including while in labor.
  • 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 the Timekeeper's minions. 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.
  • 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 is 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, Donnagon Giggles 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".
    • Donnagon loves his children, and is afraid of his wife, Francesca .
  • 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 Gregorio 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 Giggles. In the first movie, he serves as a minor supporting character (who spends most of the time as a Fooglie), in the second he is the hidden main antagonist, and in the third he reformed himself once again and now working as a technician. It is mentioned this is a recurring thing for him.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Floop, a relatively unexpected twist in the first movie.
    • Donnagon 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 is unusual because out of all the villains in the series, the only female is one of the three who don't get redeemed.
  • Imagine Spot: When Gregorio encounters the father of Juni's bully (who's several inches taller than him) in the first movie, he imagines being attacked and responding throwing him into the front window. The kids cheer and celebrate him and Juni runs into his father's arms to be picked up...only to phase back into reality and leave, the father boasting.
  • 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.
    • Everyone (excluding Dinky Winks and Romero) have rocket shoes during the Toymaker's attack on real world in the third movie.
  • 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 gorilla 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 in the second film 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 technological division 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. One scene even shows the technicians falling down to their doom.
  • Numbered Sequels
  • Odd Organ Up Top: The genetically engineered "Thumb-Thumbs" made by Floop are gigantic humanoid monsters with their arms, legs, and head all giant thumbs.
  • 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 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 Marissa's infant daughter, Maria 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.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Almost none of the villains in the series stay evil.
  • 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
  • Team Hand-Stack
    • At the end of Spy Kids, Carmen, Juni and their parents do a double hand stack (both hands).
    • All the heroes do a hand stack at the end of Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.
  • 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.