Why, 2K?!- “Spy Kids” and “The Trumpet of the Swan”

BEFORE WE GET INTO THIS: I have a kickstarter that’s currently searching for funds. It’s for a comedy web series about friends and interventions, so if you find this thing I do funny, consider throwing us a few buck, I’d really appreciate it. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/708820076/youve-got-a-problem?ref=user_menu

The first decade of this millennium is often heralded as some sort of golden age for children’s films. Sure, most of Pixar’s best flicks came out in this period, and there were some winners in general, but I think people tend to view the films of their own childhood with rose-colored glasses. Most of these films are goddamn godawful. Just HOW goddamn godawful, you ask? Let’s find out together by checking out EVERY kids film between 2000 and 2009. From theatrical to direct-to-DVD to Disney Channel Original, we’ll look at ’em all because I am a glutton for punishment.

This week, a movie you all remember, and I scratch my itch for a tense, dark, psychological thriller.

SPY KIDS

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UUUUGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

WHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!

This was interminably boring in a way I cannot justify. Like, I have been told that watching me watch this movie was fun because of how little I was enjoying myself. Why is this film a meme? And why does that make me hate it more? If it weren’t for Allan Cumming and Robert Patrick, this would have been a crisis to behold.

Spy Kids follows Carmen and Juni Cortez, two children of international spies. Spies who, the film establishes, originally worked for enemy espionage agencies. So at least one of the Spy Kids’s parents work for an enemy foreign government. Huh.

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When their parents are kidnapped by a… children’s television host?  Carmen and Juni set off on their own as spies. but they are also kids. Therefore, “Spy Ki–” Ooooh, I get the title now.

Alan Cumming makes this movie watchable. Like, he’s just so much fun you kinda can’t look away when he’s onscreen. Also, Robert Patrick has entire scene about how he doesn’t approve of the use of robots, which I never won’t find funny.

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But other than that, ugh, this movie is really boring. There’s very little going on and when there is, it’s marred by the low cost and limited acting abilities of its protagonists. What scares me is that, in my research, I found that the three Spy Kids movies each came out one year apart. That is not enough time to craft a decent movie.

THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

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So, uh, this is really fucking good. But what it isn’t is “fun” so don’t put this one on unless you’re ready to be bummed out for a little while. But if you’re in for spellbinding performances and unsettling implications, do I have a film for you.

The film stars Tilda Swinton as a mother living all alone in a small town, constantly ending off vandalism and angry screaming tirades from her neighbors. This causes her to flash back to the childhood of her first child, Kevin, and the horrible events of two years previous.

In actuality, the film is a psychological thriller about Ezra Miller’s Kevin, a “bad seed”-esque psychopath bordering on the cartoonish, but in a good way. It is a little bit of a stretch that no one except Swinton notices Kevin’s saturday morning cartoon level villainy, but it works for some unexplainable reason.

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This film though is all about build. The build up to Kevin’s final horrible act is incredibly well done, and his steady ascent to vicious monster amps you up as the film progresses. And in a good thriller, that tension mounting buildup is exactly what you want.

But this films also shines in terms of its tone. Nothing is even close to black and white. And it’s clear that Kevin didn’t turn out the way he did by random. Between his all to eager to handwave troubling behavior father to his clearly not prepared to be a mother mom, the film does a good job of showing how a psychopath can grow up unchecked in an unhealthy environment.

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This movie features some incredibly strong child actors as well, which I felt like I should address. In addition to that, Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, and Ezra Miller all turn in career defining performances that make this thing worth watching no matter what.

Highly recommended.

And that’s it for this week, next week, we close in on the end of 2001 and get ready to turn over a new leaf.

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