2001’s Spy Kids marks a truly unnerving entry in the world of children’s entertainment. Spy Kids boasts ridiculous action, a lack of sentimentality, and a plot that's, to put it mildly, bonkers.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, the man behind Desperado and Sin City, the film's stuffed to the brim with monstrously terrifying characters. And the movie focuses on themes that feel slightly more adult than what you'd expect from a children’s film. This isn’t to say Spy Kids is bad. It moves at a pace other kids’ entertainment should emulate, and the film is inherently likable thanks to its off-the-wall visuals. But it's definitely weird.
In the universe of Spy Kids, Floop's Fooglies is an incredibly popular children's program starring Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming), an evil combination of Willy Wonka and Steve from Blue's Clues. On the show, Floop delivers positive reinforcement to kids while his Fooglies slide around on rainbows.
The Fooglies are horrific, nightmare creations sure to make a viewer's stomach turn. Of course, they're even more terrifying when it's revealed they were once human beings who Floop altered and engineered to fit his aesthetic purposes.
The core conflict of Spy Kids revolves around the battle between artificial and biological intelligence, which culminates in the children fighting dark mirrors of themselves. The two original siblings battle versions of themselves created to be technically perfect, and they only succeed by becoming imperfect.
This is all a bit too philosophical for kids. Especially since this is a children's movie that features a crayon made of acid which can cut metal bars in half.
At the end of the first act of the film, the children learn their parents are not only spies, but they're missing and likely dead. The parents survive, but, for most of the film, the Spy Kids operate under the assumption that their parents passed away and they never really knew them.
Aside from being raised by people who thought it was okay to lie to their children for a decade, they're also ultimately frail, fallible human beings. Everyone wants their parents to be superheroes, but, in this instance, they're superheroes who can't do their jobs correctly.
A major plot point in the film involves Machete (Danny Trejo) helping the Spy Kids save the day with his inventions. Yes, this is the same character from the Machete franchise. Seeing as Machete's other adventures on the silver screen were extremely R-rated, Trejo's character presumably spent the rest of his offscreen time brutally murdering his enemies.