(On Cable TV, May 2013) As much as I’m favourably predisposed toward writer/director Robert Rodriguez’s work (including his movies aimed at kids), it feels as if I’ve been making more and more excuses in order to enjoy his latest work. The first two Spy Kids movies stand tall as fine examples of adult-friendly kid cinema, but this fourth entry is a bit of a disappointment closer to Shorts or The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D: The script is easy, the themes are close to the surface, the dialogues are often too obvious (the endless puns on time eventually take their toll) and the originality of the previous films seem toned down. It’s still fun to watch on account of pure forward rhythm and interesting visuals, but it does leave viewers a bit unsatisfied by the end of the show. Still, I would call it anything harsher than a disappointment: It’s fun to see Jessica Alba as a spy-mom, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara and Danny Trejo all make short-but-welcome appearances to tie this fourth installment to the first four films in the series, and the family-positive message of the film shouldn’t be discounted. It does all amount to a thin new film by Robert Rodriguez, though, and looking at the rest of his recent-or-upcoming filmography (filled with Machetes and Sin Citys) it would be nice to see him attempt something more ambitious than spinoffs of his previous films.