The words Robert Rodriguez would come to regret saying for years to his son: “This would make a cool movie”. Oy. It’s difficult to just outright cut this movie a new one, especially since the intentions behind it are admirable. Whether or not Rodriguez’ son thought of the story, dreamt of these characters, and or co-wrote this screenplay, it’s hard to completely rip it apart. It sucks, that’s a given, and its Rodriguez’ worst, but I’m still trying to figure out why this was made. I remember kids movies being bad, especially when I was a kid. I had to suffer through “Rock a Doodle”, “Ferngully”, and “Mom and Dad Save the World”, but I believe it’s possible to make a very good kids film.
Whatever market Rodriguez is hoping to corner with his kids films, he really doesn’t have it covered. “Sharkboy and Lavagirl” is a well intentioned bit of fluff but its a kids film that’s empty and void of anything worth taking away from. The kids will turn this on, watch it, and leave without memory of what they’d just seen. The film has zero staying power, and for a man whose sole intent was to make films like “Sin City” that would make an impact, he’s taking three steps back with this. Why Rodriguez would make a film other than as a present to his son, is beyond me. And it’s shocking the studios didn’t even give him a hard time about making it either. Must have sold his soul. When my nephew brings me a picture of a superhero he drew, I simply say it’s great and move on, you don’t make a fucking film out of it. You can humor kids without wasting resources, money, time, and talent. There’s love within the intentions of the film, but it’s incredibly unnecessary, and incredibly artificial.
There’s really nothing eye-catching about the world Rodriguez lays out for us, and it’s just so visually generic. From the planet drool, the ice world, and the milk and cookies world, it’s just so aesthetically offensive at times. And a world of dreams, wasn’t that included in one of the “Spy Kids” films or am I nuts? Either way, there’s nothing imaginative in the imagination of Rodriguez, and these worlds are never original. He doesn’t seem to want to invent a new zeitgeist, he just wants to do what everyone else has done before, except worse. There’s a musical number, bad special effects, even worse 3D, and horrible acting ala the children and basically everyone else further induced by really bad dialogue. Cayden Boyd–younger brother of better actress Jenna Boyd–gives a terrible performance as the whiny, and annoying Max whose imagination could spell hope, or doom for his own world.
Taylor Launtley is cringe-inducing, and awfully awful as the odd character Sharkboy. Taylor Dooley is bland and forgettable as the heroine Lavagirl. But the awful acting is also attributed to the badly written characters. The two title heroes are perhaps the worst written basically because their characterization contradict what Rodriguez expects of us. How can we like two children heroes whom are so unlikable? Lavagirl is whiny, and self-centered asking every three minutes “Was the dream about me? I want to find out my origin”. Hell, they enlist Max to help them save the world and all she thinks about is finding her own story, while Sharkboy is a bully. Why would a kid who is bullied everyday dream of a character who is a bully himself? That’s a ridiculous paradox that’s never really rectified.
While I’m sure the intended persona of Sharkboy is “gruff but lovable”, he really does nothing but be a bully to Max. He threatens to punch him, tries to attack him often, and seems to get a kick out of it, and the duo never really have believable enough chemistry. “Sharkboy and Lavagirl” is as artificial as Rodriguez’ Spy Kids films, except bad. I enjoyed the “Spy Kids” films basically because it was much more genuine in its intentions than this was. Okay, you’ve gotten it out of your system like a gall stone Rob, now can we get back to making good movies, please? Kids films don’t have to be this bad, and I know it, because I’ve seen kids films that were great. Rodriguez should really learn that if he wants to give his kids a present, he should think college fund, not a really bad movie.