“Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4-D”
Fair (1 star)
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor.
Running time: 89 minutes
Studio: Dimension Films
When a movie’s marketing campaign is built around a gimmick, that calling card had better live up to its billing, especially if the picture hopes to benefit from any positive word of mouth. In the case of “Spy Kids 4-D,” all the hype has to do with “Aroma-Scope,” a dubious feature which unfortunately proves to be pretty disappointing.
Dubbed “Odorama” when augmenting John Waters’ Polyester back in 1981, and revived most recently in Rugrats Go Wild in 2003, the scratch-n-sniff contrivance has never quite been able to capture the imagination of theatergoers. In this instance, the eight options on the Aroma-Scope card smell more like assorted scents of urinal cakes than odors matching the suggestions ranging from chocolate candy to baby poop.
If this represents state-of-the-art olfactory technology, the innovation still has a long way to go before it amounts to anything more than a novelty. Nonetheless, youngsters in the target demographic will probably enjoy the diversion for the audience participation aspect alone.
Written and directed as usual by creator Robert Rodriguez, “Spy Kids 4-D” looks pretty much like the last gasp of an expiring film franchise. The long-in-the-tooth protagonists of the prior installments, Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara), have aged out of their lead roles in favor of precocious twins Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil Wilson (Mason Cook).
The plot is implausible ab initio, from the sight of the adolescents’ pregnant stepmom, Marissa (Jessica Alba), in hot pursuit of Danger D’Amo (Jeremy Piven), the proverbial diabolical villain bent on world domination. Despite contractions coming a couple minutes apart, the indomitable OSS Agent manages to apprehend the menace to society before arriving in the delivery room with just enough time to give birth to her little bundle of joy in the company of a hubby (Joel McHale) who thinks he’s married to an interior decorator.
However, this is not the last that Marissa will hear from her nefarious nemesis, since the creep is determined to get his hands on a powerful red-sapphire necklace capable of speeding up time to the point of planetary collapse. But when she falls into his clutches, leaving humanity on the brink of extinction, guess who springs into action to save the day equipped with lotsa cool gadgets?
Yet, of far more consequence than the improbable exploits of these pint-sized sleuths is “Spy Kids 4-D’s” profusion of bodily function fare, a concatenation of scatological humor designed to keep tykes in stitches while scratching-n-sniffing away. After all, what’s funnier to a ‘tweener than a fart joke you can smell, too?