After enjoying some success with the surprisingly enjoyable & cheesy "Spy Kids," Director (and all around good guy) Robert Rodriguez now brings forth a sequel, "Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams" which is far less enjoyable and far more cheesy. As a matter of fact, you'd be hard pressed to find more cheese anywhere outside of a Wisconsin dairy farm.
Juni and Carmen Cortez (Daryl Sabara and Alexa Vega) are back, now officially a part of OSS, and officially recognized as Spy Kids. But the OSS, just like every other government bureaucracy, cannot resist expanding upon a good thing, so now there is an entire army of "spy kids" at their disposal; but Juni and Carmen are, of course, the most renowned.
Within in the first opening minutes of the film, which takes place in a truly inspired theme park, we quickly discern that Juni and Carmen have rivals: the Giggle kids (Matthew O'Leary and Emily Osment) who dearly covet the Cortez' fame and status. With help of their conniving father (Mike Judge), the Giggles do what they can, not only to surpass the Cortez family, but to humiliate them as well.
Once again, we find the greatest threat to the OSS is the OSS itself, along with the internal politics and treachery which played a small but significant part in the plot of the first film. It seems as if the OSS is more of a threat to world peace than a help, and one wonders why Uncle Sam doesn't just shut the operation down and call it a day. Perhaps it would prevent the making of any more "Spy Kids" movies, which I'm beginning to think would be a very good thing.
The plot revolves around a device known as a "transmooker" -- which can be best described as the ultimate cloaking device, even able to cloak entire islands off the map. It also has the wonderful ability to render all electronic devices useless, which is quite a thorn in the side of the intrepid Spy Kids, who's reliance on James Bond style fancy gadgets is only a shade less than an alcoholic's dependence on his next drink. Of course the transmooker itself is an electronic device, but somehow is immune to its own nasty effects. (Only in Hollywood....)
So our two heroes, Juni and Carmen, locate the cloaked island, where the stolen transmooker was taken, and attempt to find it before their rivals, the Giggles kids, do. The island turns out to be a retirement resort for every single monstrous creature ever created by Ray Harryhausen ("Jason and the Argonauts," "7th Voyage of Sinbad," etc.). Except we are told that they were created by the socially insecure and somewhat troubled scientist "Dr. Romero" (Steve Buscemi) who was looking for some companionship, and a portable zoo. But of course those of us who've seen a few movies in our time know better.
During the same time, there is a completely boring and totally unnecessary sub-plot involving Carmen & Juni's parents and grandparents. The only reason the subplot exists is to cloak this poor homage to Harryhausen as a "family film." Yeah, right. I certainly fell for it.
Hollywood films, especially action-adventures and sci-fi flicks, often ask the audience to suspend logic and rational thought while the plot thickens. It is the price we pay, beyond the ticket price, for the pleasure of being "entertained." But Spy Kids 2 doesn't just ask for a suspension of belief, but a wholesale slaughter of anything remotely resembling intelligence. That's a big price to pay, and one I was unable to justify.
If Daniel Rodriguiez is such a fan of Harryhausen, then he should make "The 8th Voyage of Sinbad" or some such thing, rather than trying to find a way to incorporate Ray's creatures into a movie allegedly about espionage. The CGI recreations of Harryhausen's monsters was one of the more enjoyable aspects of this horrid film, but not enough to pull it out of the slimy pit in which very poor writing knocks it into.
The dialogue is stupid, even for kids to listen to. Most of the jokes fall as flat as the acting. Much of the cuteness and fun of the first Spy Kids film is completely lacking in the sequel. Instead, we have a very disjointed plot, an adventure that leads to nowhere, and a subplot that should have been locked in the submarine where it mostly takes place.
My Rating: 4/10