Look at the header. I don't want to type out the full title of the film again before the end of the year, okay?
We're back in Robert Rodriguez' "family" land, from whence sprang the three entertaining (though diminishing) SPY KIDS films. So you know you're going to have plenty of imaginative visuals and put-upon youngsters.
But the formula's worn pretty thin by now. I was expecting a mock superhero adventure that actually put the title characters in the center of the action--but no, we get poor, misunderstood Max (white-bread dweeb). He gets picked on in class because he dreams too much. His parents are squabbling. The bullies ruin his dream journal, and his teacher (George Lopez) tells him that he's just got to live in the real world and stop dreaming, man!
However, Max's dreams have contained sufficient power to create an alternate reality, Shark Boy and Lava Girl really do exist... but since Max has now been discouraged from dreaming, THEIR reality is about to be swept away by darkness (and an evil alarm clock with George Lopez's face, or something like that).
Yeah, I suppose it could have been cute--thing is, it also could have been zippy and terrific just like it THINKS it is. But it relies far too much on visual puns (train of thought, stream of consciousness, etc.), the characters are unappealing (okay, Lavagirl herself is pleasant enough, but the Shark Boy character is deliberately obnoxious and hostile throughout, and the less said about our "hero" Max, the better. "The power's in YOU! If you learn to dream with your eyes OPEN, then ANYTHING's possible!"
Oh, yeah, did I mention how hideously cornball the dialogue is?
And while I HATE to admit when Roger Ebert's right, I must do so here. But I must make a point first. I LOVE 3-D, while Ebert apparently HATES it. It was 3-D that inspired me to take the family to this movie, not the film itself. Ebert recommends the film, but not the 3-D. I don't even recommend the film--but it has to be said that the specific 3-D process applied to this one does, indeed, strain the eyes and screw up the colors. The red and blue lenses were not the way to go--if only we could have had the grey polarized lenses through which, say, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III took place. You CAN have great 3-D and great picture quality at the same time. But you DON'T get it here.
Robert Rodriguez based the entire film on a dream related to him by his young son. And I'm sure the dream was perfectly touching and resulted in a fine father-son moment. And it should have STAYED that way. This film struck me as an exercise in sheer self-indulgence: made for the Rodriguez family and the Rodriguez family alone. My six-year-old, of course, enjoyed it--but even my daughter (who enjoyed all three SPY KIDS films, including the lesser 3-D effort) found this to be a letdown.
Well, we'll always have SIN CITY--and Rodriguez has proven that he certainly CAN make top-drawer family films, too. This isn't one of them, but I hope he tries again anyway.
As in not off. If you want to post about mainstream flicks, this is the forum.
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