Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 34
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

I HOPE MY GPS IS UP TO THE TASK: Marissa (Jessica Alba) consults the virtual map projected inside her car in order to use the guidance system to help her catch the evil villain Danger D’Amo (Jeremy Piven, not shown) before he can seize control of the world.

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4-D: “Spy Kids” Sequel Features Disappointing “Aroma-Scope”

Kam Williams

When a movie’s marketing campaign is built around a gimmick, that gimmick had better live up to its billing, especially if the picture hopes to generate positive word of mouth publicity. Unfortunately, in the case of Spy Kids 4-D, the hype is about “Aroma-Scope,” a feature which is 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 based gimmick has never captured the imagination of theatergoers. In this instance, the eight options on the Aroma-Scope card don’t even smell like the odors that match the suggestions on the card, which range from chocolate candy to baby poop.

If this represents state-of-the-art olfactory technology, then the innovation still has a long way to go before it amounts to anything more than a novelty. Nonetheless, youngsters will probably enjoy the novelty of participating in the film’s action.

Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, Spy Kids 4-D is probably the last gasp of an expiring film series. The protagonists of the prior installments, Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara), have become too old for their lead roles and have been succeeded by the twins Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil Wilson (Mason Cook).

The plot is implausible right from the beginning. The adolescents’ pregnant stepmother, Marissa (Jessica Alba), is in hot pursuit of Danger D’Amo (Jeremy Piven), the diabolical villain who is bent on world domination. Despite her labor contractions, that are coming a couple of minutes apart, the indomitable agent manages to apprehend the menace to society and still arrive in the delivery room — accompanied by her husband (Joel McHale) (who thinks he’s married to an interior decorator) — with just enough time to give birth to her baby.

This is not the last time Marissa will tangle with her nemesis, since D’Amo is determined to get his hands on a powerful red-sapphire necklace that is capable of speeding up time to the point of causing the planet to collapse. But, when she falls into his clutches, thereby leaving humanity on the brink of extinction, guess who springs into action to save the day equipped with lots of cool gadgets?

Yet, more consequential than the improbable exploits of the young spies is the profusion of bodily function humor that is designed to keep the children in stitches while they are scratching-n-sniffing away.

Fair (1 star). Rated PG for mild action and rude humor. Running time: 89 minutes. Studio: Dimension Films

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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