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The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl in 3-D Review

By Shawn McKenzie 06/11/2005

Robert Rodriguez has not entered the realm of my favorite directors yet.  He was almost there…and then he brought out 2003’s Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.  Despite the hype over Sin City (which I still haven’t seen), I have a feeling that it will be a little while longer until he enters that realm if he keeps putting out crap like The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl in 3-D.

Max (Cayden Boyd) is a lonely fourth grade dreamer whose life sucks.  His dad and mom (David Arquette and Kristin Davis) always fight (unfortunately, they seem to argue about him mostly; his dad thinks that he should keep dreaming and his mom thinks that he should grow up.  Also, dad is an unemployed writer, and the two seem like they are headed for divorce.)  Max’s teacher, Mr. Electricidad (George Lopez), thinks that he wastes too much of his time dreaming, and he doesn’t want his daughter, Marissa (Sasha Pieterse), to be a dreamer too (plus, I think that she has a crush on Max.)  The class bully, Linus (Jacob Davich), along with his cronies (Marc Musso, Shane Graham, Tiger Darrow, and Spencer Scott), stole Max’s dream journal and later messed it up with a black marker.  To put salt on his wounds, he lives right across the street from the school, so as soon as he crosses the street, the torment begins.  Pretty much everyone thinks that he is nuts (except Marissa) when Max tells them about spending the summer vacation with Sharkboy and Lavagirl, two characters that he made up in his dreams.  Sharkboy (Rebel Rodriguez, Sharkboy at age 5; Racer Rodriguez, Sharkboy at age 7) was a normal kid, but when he was separated from his marine biologist father (Rico Torres) and lost at sea, he was raised by a family of sharks.  Over the years, the 12-year-old Sharkboy (Taylor Lautner) eventually grew gills and fins, and became a shark/human hybrid.  Lavagirl (Taylor Dooley), a 12-year-old girl with purple hair and molten-magma skin who turns everything into lava (she is really conflicted by this power), brings Sharkboy back to her home planet of Planet Drool.  When a tornado arrives and blows a big hole into the side of the classroom, sending the real Sharkboy and Lavagirl into the class, the rest of the non-believers finally realize that the characters are real.  They tell Max that they need him to return to Planet Drool to stop “the darkness” which has been annihilating all of the dreams on the planet.  Since Linus had ruined Max’s dream journal, and his attempt to take his mom’s advice and grow up, has made the planet go dark.  Max needs to go to Planet Drool and dream more dreams to save the planet.  There are obstacles in their way though.  A robotic bad guy named Mr. Electric (Lopez again, except it’s mainly just his face) and his associate Minus (Davich again, with heavy goth makeup), along with Mr. Electric’s Plug Hounds, see to it that Max won’t succeed in fighting the darkness.  When they get there, they get some help from Tobor (Lopez yet again, but in voice only), the life-size version of a toy robot Max had been working on with his dad back on Earth.  Tobor tells the trio to go to Mount Neverest and seek out the Ice Princess (Pieterse again), who has the Crystal Heart, the only thing that can destroy Mr. Electric and Minus, and take away the darkness.  While getting to Mount Neverest, they pass various places that were in Max’s dreams, like the Dream Graveyard and the Land of Milk and Cookies.  Once they get there, they encounter a Catch-22.  The Ice Princess wants to give them the Crystal Heart, but she can’t leave the Ice Palace, and she is the only one who is able to operate the thing.  If they can’t find a solution to the problem then Planet Drool, and possibly Earth as well, will be doomed.

Rodriguez wrote the screenplay based on a story told to him by his seven-year-old son Racer (who has a “story by” credit.)  With the imaginative visuals (even though they look exactly like the Spy Kids movies), I can picture it being written by a seven-year-old.  The dialogue unfortunately feels like a seven-year-old wrote it, because there is barely any wit in it.  Lopez, who is hilarious in his stand-up routines and as the dad in his ABC sitcom, barely gives you a chuckle.  The end is also wrapped up a little too neatly and conveniently.  Aside from Lopez, no one else can act for some reason.  Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actress Davis is a dud, along with Arquette, whom I’ve almost never liked, in his first role as a dad.  The kids’ acting skills were about as bad as the kids on the WB’s “7th Heaven”…or the kids from Rodriguez’s own Spy Kids movies.  Don’t get me wrong…I loved the first two movies, but the acting skills of Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara weren’t top notch.  Fortunately, they had top notch writing to go with their characters.  This movie doesn’t even have that.  Also, Dooley looks just like Vega (I’m guessing the actress has already grown up…otherwise, I bet they would have used her to play Lavagirl.)

Then we get to those freakin’ 3-D glasses.  If you go to the movie, you are given either a pair of Sharkboy or Lavagirl 3-D glasses (at least that was what I was given at the screening; I of course opted for the Sharkboy glasses.)  The movie starts out in 3-D, where it tells the back-story of the title characters.  You then take off the glasses and watch the earthbound story.  Once we get to Planet Drool, the glasses go back on, and they have to stay on for most of the movie.  When the title characters and Max arrive back on Earth, you can take off the glasses and swallow a couple of Tylenol, because you will have a headache by this time.  Didn’t I hear a rumor that George Lucas is planning to re-release all six Star Wars movies in 2007 (the 30-year anniversary of the beginning of the franchise) using a 3-D technology that doesn’t require those stupid glasses?  As big of a Star Wars geek as I am, if I have to sit through the whole saga with those glasses on, I may commit geek blasphemy and not see them (oh you know I will anyway…with a big bottle of Tylenol in hand.)

I don’t want to pick on Racer, but his dad should take some of the blame for The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl in 3-D.  Rodriguez has written good dialogue and has formulated a good story before, so why this movie would only entertain anyone over the age of seven is puzzling.  Even the good points in the third Spy Kids movie are absent here.  If Rodriguez can concentrate on adult movies and distance himself from family films, maybe he will finally enter the realm of my favorite directors, because this movie won’t do it.


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