DVD Release Date: November 22, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: August 19, 2011
Rating: PG (for mild action and rude humor)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Sequel
Run Time: 89 min.
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Actors: Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven, Joel McHale, Ricky Gervais

Every working mom knows how difficult it is to balance career and family; imagine how tricky that can be when mom’s job is being a spy. With the birth of her first child imminent—as in, her water breaks while she’s beating up bad guys—Marissa Wilson (Jessica Alba, Little Fockers) retires from her job with the OSS to concentrate on raising her new baby and mothering her stepkids.

A year later, things are not going so well. Stepkids Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard, The Back-up Plan) and Cecil (Mason Cook) still haven’t accepted Marissa into the family. Dad Wilbur (Joel McHale, The Informant!) is never around; he’s too busy trying to get his “Wilbur Wilson: Spy Hunter” reality show off the ground. And worst of all, Marissa’s archenemy “Tick Tock” (Jeremy Piven) is back on the streets—and somebody has to stop him before everyone, literally, runs out of time. Naturally, Rebecca and Cecil wind up in the middle of the action and, like the Spy Kids who came before them, find a way to save the planet.

As plots go, this one is pretty thin—but plot isn’t really the point of this kind of thing, is it? One welcome twist is that young Cecil is hearing-impaired. This in no way slows him down and he actually uses his hearing aids to his advantage more than once. It’s great to see a perceived “disability” shown in such a positive light.

In many ways, Spy Kids: All The Time in the World (fourth in the film franchise) is a kid version of a James Bond film. There are tons of super-cool gadgets, lots of relatively mindless action, corny jokes by the bushel, and an evil villain trying to destroy the world. In this case, the gadgets include a talking robotic dog voiced by Ricky Gervais (The Invention of Lying) in a bored-but-sarcastic tone that contrasts nicely with the pooch’s adorably furry face. The violence tends to be of the cartoon variety where a solid punch results in a knockout but no lasting injury. The one-liners range from groan-inducing to eye-rolling, but aside from too many fart/poop jokes for this reviewer’s taste they’re harmless enough. Even the villain isn’t all bad . . . when you learn what inspired his actions he becomes almost sympathetic.