September 4, 2002
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DAILY ARTS PRESENTS: WEDNESDAYS AT THE MOVIES
'Spy Kids 2'. is fun enter tainment
for both children and adults
By Jeff Dickerson
Daily Arts Editor
"Spy Kids" was one of 2001's sur-
prise box office hits, grossing over
$110 million domestically, more than
three times its production budget. The
special-effects-heavy tale of two young
spies on a mission to rescue their cap-
tive parents won over the press and
The man behind the project was
Robert Rodriguez, a young Latino
Texan who made his celluloid mark in
1992 with the mecha-low-budget gui-
tar-slinger "El Mariachi." Produced
for a mere $7,000; Rodriguez funded
the film by submitting his body to var-
ious medical tests. The poking and
prodding paid off, and Rodriguez's
debut became a film festival phenom.
His second feature came in 1995
with the Antonio Banderas starrer
"Desperado," a pseudo-sequel to "El
Mariachi." This time around the budget
was in the millions, and all of it came
back thanks to impressive box office
ticket sales. Rodriguez had now
achieved great cinematic success in
both the Hollywood and independent
realms of film.
"From Dusk Till Dawn," released in
1996, and 1998's "The Faculty" fol-
lowed, with Rodriguez taking on new
responsibilities with each new film. He
is more than just another writer/direc-
tor, he also serves as editor, composer,
production designer, sound mixer, cin-
ematographer, producer and even helps
with the special effects. And most of it
is done in the garage of his home he
calls "Spywalker Ranch." To say that
Robert Rodriguez is an autuer would
be an drastic understatement.
Flashing forward to present day,
"Spy Kids 2" opens in a summer of
mediocrity for kids' movies, as promis-
ing big budget stories "Lilo & Stich"
and "Stuart Little 2" turned out to be
disappointments. Rodriguez has been
able to repeat his successful formula
and make his sequel as entertaining as
"Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost
Dreams" begins with the President of
the United States' daughter perusing
an amusement park with a smilin' park
owner (Bill Paxton, "Aliens") as her
tour guide. We are introduced to sever-
al of the popular attractions, each one
showing off the creativity of Rodriguez
and his crew. There is "The Whipper
Snapper," a ride where passengers sit
in an enclosed ball and are literally
hurled through the air on the end of a
giant whip. But none of these are
enough to impress the President's
play against one another perfectly.
Their sibling relationship seems eerily
natural and it is hard to believe they
are not brother and sister in reality.
From their incessant bickering to their
occasional agreement, every bit of
dialogue spouted between them feels
The adult members of the cast prove
equally -gifted and seem to be having
just as much fun in the process. Anto-
nio Banderas is his usual charming
Enter "The Juggler."
As the proud park owner
tells us, this is the
amusement park ride to
end all amusement park
rides. Suddenly the little
girl has found her per-
fect little thrill-seeker
and all is well. Not so
fast. When the ride
experiences some tech-
nical problems and the
safety of the President's
daughter is at risk, only
Spy KIDS 2:
ISLAND OF LOST
At Showcase and
self, while Carla Gugino
is once again easy on the
eyes. There are countless
other memorable, but
smaller roles, from Mike
Judge, Steve Buscemi,
Danny Trejo, Tony Shal-
houb and Ricardo Mon-
talban just to name a few.
Some may pass off the
special effects in the
movie as amateurish, but
said viewers would prove
only to be cinematically
oblivious. The computer
one person can save her from danger.
Make that two people.
Here come the Spy Kids. Carmen
(Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara)
return to action as they are called in by
the Secret Service to save the day. But
when the rescue takes too long, two
more small soldiers are requested for
assistance. Gary (Matthew O'Leary,
"Frailty") and Gerti (Emily Osment,
sister of Haley Joel Osment) Giggles
serve as the Buckeyes to Carmen and
As the film progresses, we are
introduced to several wonderful new
characters and locations, each with a
personal flair from Rodriguez. "Spy
Kids 2" is definitely bigger than its
predecessor, but the director was able
to maintain the budget of $30 million,
a small chunk of change in the movie
One of the foundations from which
the success of the "Spy Kids" saga is
built on is the relationship between
siblings Carmen and Juni. Young
actors Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara
are talented young performers who
generated creatures in the film resem-
ble the old stop motion animation pio-
neered by special effects creative
wizard Ray Harryhausen, most
famous for his work on "Clash of the
Titans" and "Jason and the Arg-
onauts." It is these little details in "Spy
Kids 2" that make the movie achieve
If M. Night Shyamalan ("Signs") is
the next Steven Spielberg, Robert
Rodriguez might be our next George
Lucas. Storytellers Lucas and
Rodriguez both enjoy an incredible
sense of independence thanks to their
success. Rodriguez has embraced the
digital era of filmmaking with open
arms, to the point where he used the
same specialized camera that was used
over the past few years to shoot
"Attack of the Clones."
"Spy Kids" and its sequel are two
examples of Hollywood's rarest breed,
the kid movie that has the elusive
crossover appeal for adults. Thankful-
ly the "Spy Kids" story is not over, the
third installment of the trilogy will be
in theaters on July 23, 2003.
-Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures
Zooey Deschanel and Jennifer Aniston ponder seeing 'Spy Kids 2' after reading a glowing review.
DespiCte fine perfonnancs, 'The
Go od Girl' lacks a good story
By Luke Smith
Daily Arts Editor
"The Good Girl," despite what you want to believe, is.
another indie flick begging to be memo-
rable and falling flat on its forgettable face.
The film's ensemble cast is not the prob-
lem, in fact the cast is anything but the
problem. All of the problems "The Good
Girl" have, come from a cliche, predictable THE G
storyline trying to be something more than
it is, and what it is, is another average At Michii
movie starring one of the "Friends."
Jennifer Aniston admirably bucks her sit- Fox Search'
com counterpart in "The Good Girl,"
instead playing the depressed, downtrod-
den, down-on-her luck, Justine Last. Last is caught in a
life she never wanted to live, a life where her dreams
are dead, the filmmakers would like us to believe, a
truly desperate existence. Her husband, Phil (John C.
Reilly, "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia") is a dilapidated
stoner who occasionally paints with his burnout sidecar
Bubba (Tim Blake Nelson). The two spend much of
their day on the couch passing a joint back and forth,
while Justine works at Retail Rodeo as a make-up clerk.
Charming, isn't it?
Enter 22 year-old Tom Worther (Jake Gyllenhaal,
"Donnie Darko," "Lovely & Amazing") a college
drunk-out, a 'budding' (read, terrible) writer and a J.D.
Salinger nut who calls himself Holden
after Salinger's "Rye" protagonist, Hold-
en Worther peaks some interest in Jus-
tine, and the two begin to have motel-sex.
Predictably, Holden and Justine's love
>D GIRL affair is spotted, and there ensues a bit pf
low-sperm count/pregnancy hijinks, and
n "Theater doctor's test to see if Phil's swimmers
have survived his sparking up. The plot
ght Pictures web thickens.
The plot of disparate, low-class, low-
brow, low-self-esteemed individuals
should strike more poignant chords than it does. It's
the film's frantic fawning at savage satire, while
underpinning its own intentions with one-line'd quips.
This in and out try-to-be-satirical, try-to-be-funny
juxtaposition is far more caustic to the picture than it
is binding. "The Good Girl" does a good job at being
both predictable, and never forcing listeners to give a
stitch about the beginning, middle or the film's quixot-
Courtsey of Dimension Films
Carla Gugino, Antonio Banderas, Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara ride hard in 'Spy Kids 2."
TO GIVE AWAY.
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