'Spy Kids' adds smell to the theater experience

2011-08-22T15:19:00Z 'Spy Kids' adds smell to the theater experienceLinda Cook The Quad-City Times
August 22, 2011 3:19 pm  • 

Clever and strange, "Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D" is a psychedelic action movie that will boggle and entertain the minds of adults and kids alike. If you like wordplay, which I enjoy immensely, you will like it all the more for the witty dialogue that will have you groaning and chuckling at a variety of puns.

The show starts with pregnant spy Marissa (Jessica Alba) trying to track down the villainous Time Keeper, who wants to take all the time in the world for himself. Minutes later, she delivers a girl who joins the family of her husband Wilbur (Joel McHale) and his children, Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook). Her family members have no idea what she does for a living. They think she's an interior decorator.

The irony, of course, is that Wilbur is a television actor who plays a spy hunter on television and is clueless that he has married an undercover agent.

Of course, you can't be a spy on the trail of a world-class bad guy for long before your family will find out what you're doing. Soon, the kids are involved in Marissa's mission, and they are joined by former spy kids Carmen and Juni (the all-grown-up Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara) as they try to, well, save time.

They are accompanied by the robotic canine companion Argonaut (played by Elmo and voiced by Ricky Gervais), who serves simultaneously as a weapon and a baby sitter.

Screenwriter and director Rodriguez always has emphasized the importance of spending time with loved ones in these shows. Now he's ever more mindful of how quickly times slips away, with all kinds of timepieces and watch imagery and references in every frame.

The "4D" in the title refers to the added dimension of "Aroma-Scope," which has been tried before. (Theaters and filmmakers have been trying for decades to incorporate the sense of smell into movies in a variety of ways.) This version, as was used in the 2003 movie "Rugrats Go Wild," uses a scratch-and-sniff card accompanied by numbers that flash on the screen, telling the audience when to use the appropriate number on the card.

Don't see the movie just for this experience. I could tell what some of the smells were supposed to be, but not all of them work very well. See it instead for the in-your-face fun of 3-D and plays on words that are, uh, timeless.

 

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