‘Spy Kids’ – pint-sized secret agents on Netflix

Robert Rodriguez brings a sense of whimsy to Spy Kids (2001), his hit family adventure of battling siblings Carmen and Juni (Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara) who discover their parents (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) are actually retired international spies. They join the family business when mom and dad are called back after ten years and kidnapped by an evil mastermind (a nefarious children’s TV show host played by Alan Cumming) with a machine that turns people into wild mutant creatures.

After making his name with violent action films made with flamboyant style on small budgets, Rodriguez turned his talents to something that his kids could enjoy. He has a real affinity with kids and fills their odyssey with such real world hurdles as sibling rivalry and lack of self confidence in addition to the wicked supervillains, enemy spies, and double agents. He also makes his kid heroes both completely relatable as ordinary American kids—Carmen is a classic older sister who teases little brother Juni mercilessly, and he escapes into a fantasy world of his own making—whose Latinx legacies are simply part of their identities.

Imaginative, energetic, and rich with an adolescent fantasy life, it’s a junior James Bond goof with spy gadgets more like toys than weapons, lots of slapstick humor, and a message of empowered kids. It’s an adventure with big scope and youthful imagination on an independent budget. Rodriguez created his own studio to create the ambitious digital effects, which looked a little ragged on the big screen but work fine at home.

It costars Teri Hatcher as Miss Gredenko (nice reference to The Police), Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, and a cameo by George Clooney.

Rated PG

Streams for a limited time on Netflix and streams free for a limited time on Hoopla, which is available through most public and college library systems.

Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Spy Kids 3 Movie Collection [Blu-ray]
Spy Kids [Blu-ray+DVD]
Spy Kids 3 Movie Collection [DVD]
Spy Kids [DVD]

Don’t miss a single recommendation. Subscribe to the Stream On Demand weekly newsletter (your E-mail address will not be shared) and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

Related posts