Spy Kids creator Robert Rodriguez returns to kids' capers with this smart yarn following the outlandish adventures of a school nerd who finds that his wishes can come true – with devastating results – thanks to a magical “Rainbow Rock". As well as a rollicking family tale, this is also a wry satirical swipe at the deadening reach of video games and a playful acknowledgement of the alienation forced on us by rampaging technology.
William H Macy
"Be careful what you wish for" is the overriding slice of advice tweenies will come away with after watching this bruising family action adventure.
Writer and director Robert Rodriguez gets kids - he knows their insatiable appetite for cartoon violence (the knocks here are real hard knocks) and he's up to speed with youngsters' fascination for bodily functions.
Geekily central to this knockabout yarn is classroom nerd Toe Thompson (Bennett), the perennial target of diminutive school bully Helvetica Black (Hell for short), played by Jolie Vanier, a vicious slip of a girl who might actually like Toe more than she lets on.
She's the daughter of Carbon Black (Spader), a sort of diabolic Steve Jobs, whose vast technological conglomerate Black Box Industries - think a rotten Apple - is working on a type of iPhone/Rubik's Cube/PS3 hybrid that's even got a cheese grater function.
Black is also the tyrannical boss of Toe's parents, a work-obsessed couple for whom the contemporary curses of text messages, video conferencing and voicemail have replaced a real, warm-blooded relationship.
Life in this technology-driven Texas suburb suffers a seismic jolt when Toe's only school buddy Loogie (Gagnon) discovers a mysterious "Rainbow Rock" in the woods - a crystal that makes your wishes come true.
Toe puts his foot in it when he sees it as the answer to his prayers - payback time for all those who make his life a misery...but hey - there's life lessons to be learnt and wishful thinking can land you in big trouble.
Inspired creations include a real Bogeyman, a genuine monster of mucus, a gang of marauding alligators and a fleet of tiny spaceships that orbit around Toe causing untold mayhem.
Kids will love this because it speaks directly to them, never patronises with crass product placement and also sends out a rather touching message that what really matters are friends...not mobile phone applications.