×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D

Multihyphenate filmmaker Robert Rodriguez moves from the graphic-novel noir of "Sin City" to the family-friendly friskiness of "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D." Latest concoction skews even younger than his "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over," so there's little chance of grabbing teens during summertime playdates.

With:
Sharkboy - Taylor Lautner Lavagirl - Taylor Dooley Max - Cayden Boyd Mr. Electric/Tobor/Ice Guardian/ Mr. Electricidad - George Lopez Max's Dad - David Arquette Max's Mom - Kristen Davis Linus/Minus - Jacob Davich Marissa/Ice Princess - Sasha Pieterse Sharkboy's Dad - Rico Torres Sharkboy (age 5) - Rebel Rodriguez Sharkboy (age 7) - Racer Rodriguez Lug - Rocket Rodriguez

Nimbly executing another of his career-defining 180-degree turns, multihyphenate filmmaker Robert Rodriguez moves from the graphic-novel noir of “Sin City” to the family-friendly friskiness of “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D.” Latest eclectic concoction from the Austin-based auteur skews even younger than his “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over,” so there’s little chance of grabbing teens (or even many tweens) during summertime playdates. Still, small fry will be enchanted by this rambunctious action-adventure, and parents may appreciate the alternative to more Forcefully violent warm-weather fare. Pic should perform decently in its theatrical run, and swimmingly on homevid.

Whimsical script — reportedly based on collaboration between the filmmaker and his 8-year-old son Racer — strikes a nice balance of gee-whiz fantasy and tongue-in-cheek humor.

Prologue introduces Sharkboy (initially played by another Rodriguez offspring, Rebel Rodriguez) as a plucky youth who’s adopted by talking sharks after being separated from his scientist father during a marine lab disaster. In a triumph of nurture over nature, the youngster gradually assumes characteristics of his adoptive family — and even sprouts a dorsal fin.

Accompanied by Lavagirl (Taylor Dooley), an equally plucky young femme who emits leaping flames and volcanic rocks, a slightly older Sharkboy (Taylor Lautner) seeks aid from Max (Cayden Boyd), a 10-year-old daydreamer who’s mercilessly teased by bullying classmates, and whose squabbling parents (David Arquette, Kristen Davis) appear headed for divorce court.

According to Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Max invented them in stories he writes. The fanciful fiction has become reality. But, Max also invented Planet Drool, a distant world now in danger of being overwhelmed by forces of darkness. It’s up to Max, with help from Sharkboy and Lavagirl, to visit Planet Drool and provide a happy ending.

Once again employing abundant blue-screen wizardly and state-of-art high-def vid technology, helmer Rodriguez drops his actors into a fantastical realm of cartoonish surrealism. It’s a wild wonderland where bloodhounds are shaped like electrical plugs, roller coasters run nonstop — much to the exhaustion of trapped passengers — and conveniently speedy vehicles are always just a brainstorm away from materializing.

As they traverse Planet Drool, the three heroes hitch a ride on a high-flying Train of Thought, float along the Stream of Consciousness, wander across the Land of Milk and Cookies — and ultimately reach the dark tower of the Dream Lair to confront Minus (effectively nasty Jacob Davich), a control-freakish fiend who bears a suspicious resemblance to the cruelest of the earthbound bullies who regularly torment Max.

Similarly, George Lopez plays Mr. Electric, a Minus minion who looks like a really mean alarm clock, and Mr. Electricidad, Max’s science teacher.

Much as he did in his “Spy Kids” trilogy, Rodriguez brings an impish sense of play and cunning showmanship to this effort. Special effects appear at once playfully cheesy and intricately sophisticated, reinforcing the overall impression of “Sharkboy and Lavagirl” as an elaborate home movie fairy tale produced by a child-prodigy computer whiz.

Unfortunately, the pic was shot in the relatively primitive anaglyphic process, which requires the audience to watch action through cardboard glasses outfitted with red and green filters, rather than the virtually transparent Polaroid filters developed for recent 3-D pix. (Rodriguez used the same retro technology for “Spy Kids 3-D.”) The tinted filters seriously compromise, and in many cases dim, the bright colors of Planet Drool. While the plot pivots on the threat of encroaching darkness, some scenes are too murky by half.

Still, “Sharkboy and Lavagirl” remains a spirited romp guaranteed to engross even the most attention-deficient pre-teens. Perfs by the three young leads are winningly sincere and unaffected. As Mr. Electric/Mr. Electricidad, Lopez (who also voices two other characters) is just broad enough. (He’s clearly having the most fun as the high-voltage villain who feels the need to “explain” every bad pun he makes.)

Arquette and Davis are oddly tentative as Max’s parents, but not so much that they get in the way.

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D

Production: A Dimension Films release of a Dimension Films and Columbia Pictures presentation of a Troublemaker Studios production. Produced by Elizabeth Avellan, Robert Rodriguez. Executive producers, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein. Directed, edited by Robert Rodriguez. Screenplay, Robert Rodriguez, Marcel Rodriguez, from a story by Robert and Racer Rodriguez.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color, 3-D/HD video), Robert Rodriguez; music, Robert Rodriguez, John Debney, Graeme Revell; art director, Jeanette Scott; set designer, Rob Simons; costume designer, Nina Proctor; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Ed Novick; special effects supervisor, Robert Rodriguez; assistant director, Brian Bettwy; casting, Mary Vernieu. Reviewed at Angelika Film Center, Houston, May 25, 2005. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 92 MIN.

With: Sharkboy - Taylor Lautner Lavagirl - Taylor Dooley Max - Cayden Boyd Mr. Electric/Tobor/Ice Guardian/ Mr. Electricidad - George Lopez Max's Dad - David Arquette Max's Mom - Kristen Davis Linus/Minus - Jacob Davich Marissa/Ice Princess - Sasha Pieterse Sharkboy's Dad - Rico Torres Sharkboy (age 5) - Rebel Rodriguez Sharkboy (age 7) - Racer Rodriguez Lug - Rocket Rodriguez

More Film

  • Chris Hemsworth Hulk Hogan

    Chris Hemsworth to Play Hulk Hogan in Biopic for Netflix

    Netflix is in the early stages of developing a Hulk Hogan biopic with Chris Hemsworth attached to star as the wrestling legend and produce. Netflix has obtained the exclusive life rights and consulting services from Terry Gene Bollea AKA Hulk Hogan. Todd Phillips, whose credits include “War Dogs” and “The Hangover” trilogy, is attached to [...]

  • Rooftop Films Announces Filmmakers Fund Grant

    Rooftop Films Announces Filmmakers Fund Grant Winners

    Swedish documentary filmmaker Anastasia Kirillova and “Negative Space” co-directors Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter are among the filmmakers who will receive grants from Rooftop Films to help complete their upcoming projects. Kirilova will be awarded $20,000 to finish her film, “In the Shadows of Love,” while collaborators Kuwahata and Porter will receive $10,000 for “Dandelion [...]

  • Jim Gianopulos

    Paramount Chief Jim Gianopulos Unveils Diversity Initiative

    Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos has announced that all studio productions will be required to complete a plan to enhance diversity. Wednesday’s reveal follows Paramount’s commitment to participating in Time’s Up and Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s 4% Challenge. The name is derived from women having directed only 4% of the country’s top grossing movies [...]

  • Leave No Trace

    Oscar Analysts Are Sincere -- but Often Totally Wrong

    With Oscars arriving Feb. 24, we can expect multiple “who will win/who should win” columns. There will also be a flurry of post-show analyses about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and why members voted the way they did. Since AMPAS never releases polls or voting tallies, these pundits will never be contradicted [...]

  • Green Book spiderman into the spider

    On Eve of Oscars, Variety’s Film Experts Answer Three Pressing Questions

    We continue to live in a divided world, with the current political landscape in the United States a seemingly endless hotbed of tumult and acrimony. Issues of racism, bigotry, diversity and gender equality drive the creative players as well, with Oscar-nominated films parlaying said themes into compelling, thought-provoking cinema. To analyze 2018 in big-screen entertainment, [...]

  • Karl Lagerfeld'Lagerfeld Confidential' Photocall at the

    Karl Lagerfeld Remembered at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The death of fashion and costume designer Karl Lagerfeld cast somewhat of a shadow over the usually jubilant Costume Designers Guild Awards — the only award show where clothes literally steal the spotlight away from actors — which was held at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday night. Here it was obvious that Lagerfeld’s impact on [...]

  • 'Captain Marvel' First Reactions: Early Reviews

    'Captain Marvel' First Reactions: 'The MCU Feels More Complete'

    “Captain Marvel” is soaring following advanced press screenings on Tuesday. Reactions from early showings have hit Twitter, and audiences are keen on Marvel’s first female-led standalone movie. Critics are praising Brie Larson’s performance as Carol Danvers, the nostalgic ’90s setting, and the cosmic sci-fi elements. Goose, Danvers’ cat, is also getting a lot of attention from [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content