Rating:1 star out of 5
The Stars: Jessica Alba, Joel McHale, Jeremy Piven, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Ricky Gervais, Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook.
The Story: Retired super-spy Marissa Wilson (Alba), who also happens to be the aunt of Carmen (Vega) and Juni (Sabara) from the first three Spy Kids movies, has comfortably settled into married life with her TV star husband, Wilber (McHale) and their baby girl. Wilber’s children from a previous marriage, Rebecca (Blanchard) and Cecil (Cook) obviously have issues with their new stepmum; the former in particular derives great joy from executing all manner of practical jokes on Marissa.
When a former enemy, The Timekeeper (spoiler alert – Piven) threatens to destroy the world by employing a special Armageddon device which speeds up time, Marissa is summoned back to defeat him. Naturally, the kids soon discover their stepmum’s former secret double life and are instantly intrigued. With the help of an animatronic terrier (voice by Gervais), they are all too happy to join in the fight against evil.
Buzz: Aiming to take the cinematic experience to a whole new level, Spy Kids 4 introduces 4D Aromascopic; where audiences are given cards with various numbered smells to be scratched and sniffed when the corresponding numerics are flashed on screen.
inSing.com thinks: Alba has been copping lots of flak for her terrible film roles (plus allegedly being a bad actress), and while she was actually sweetly unoffensive in Good Luck Chuck and The Fantastic Four, one simply has to watch Spy Kids 4 to understand all that hate. Although admittedly it's not so much her lifeless acting, but director Robert Rodriguez's chaotic mess of a plot and lame, pun-filled script that makes this latest (and hopefully last) addition to the series such a pain to sit through.
Once a promising, young talent, Rodriguez has somehow degenerated to tossing crap to audiences through various headache inducing 3D sequences, in a last ditch attempt to make up for a non-existent storyline.
The aromascopic addition might seem vaguely interesting in theory, unfortunately these scratch-and-sniff cards eventually blend together to form a homogeneous mixture of artificial smells that don't exactly contribute to the experience in any way. The rest of the cast, specifically a grossly misused Piven, are left with uttering unintelligible one-liners and jokes that fall flatter than Alba's impressive post-baby abs.
More suited for a TV episode than a full length feature, Spy Kids 4 is a sad continuation to a well-liked franchise that exhibited some decent potential.