The scratch-and-sniff "Aroma-Scope" gimmick of "Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D" doesn't work. Maybe I just got a defective card, but the scents you're supposed to smell when the number flashes on the screen and you scratch the corresponding number on your card all smell like burnt artificial blueberry syrup.
So take away one "D" from this "4D" movie, one gimmick from a gimmick-laden kiddie comedy from the Robert Rodriguez "Spy Kids" factory. Gadgets, cheese puffs and diapers fly off the screen in the cheesiest kid-friendly 3D tradition. Maybe I caught a break, as Rodriguez, channeling his inner middle schooler, wants us to smell vomit and dog farts and diapers.
"All the Time in the World" is a tepid tween comedy built on gimmicks, and bad puns.
Agent Marissa Wilson, played by Jessica Alba, is another in a long line of Cortez clan counterintelligence officers. She's retired and has a baby with her new husband, who has two kids. Rebecca and Cecil (Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook) don't like their stepmom. They think she's keeping secrets from them, which she is.
Only when stepmom's nemesis, Tick Tock (Jeremy Piven), gets out of jail and joins up with masked supervillain "The Timekeeper" do the kids' learn Marissa's secret and find themselves caught up in her mission.
Dad (Joel McHale, who doesn't register) does a "spies among us" TV show titled "Spy Hunter," and he doesn't even know he's married to one. What's worse, he and Marissa are like a lot of parents -- rushed, manic, missing out on quality time with the kids, which is the message Rodriguez hammers home here.
The message is tacked onto an absurdly complicated story that has multiple villains, multiple heroes and multiple Pivens. Rodriguez only needs the script to take us from one gimmick to the next, and his lack of attention to it shows.
The gimmicks are supposed to provide the laughs because there aren't any in the script. Getting Ricky Gervais to do the voice of a robot dog is fine. But give the guy something funny to say. All the Pivens in the world aren't funny without funny business for him to play.
Do the child stars cast here have what it takes to be the new Spy Kids? They're a pretty bland pair -- fitting, considering who plays their parents.
It's commendable that Rodriguez has peopled these "Spy Kids" movies with a diverse cast from a wide swath of society -- Cecil even wears hearing aids. And it's just as commendable that he's loyal to his actors. But the return of the original "Spy Kids," Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara, now all grown up, only reminds us that his color-blind casting has never given us colorful kids.
All Rodriguez's cinematic tricks can't lift "All the Time in the World" into anything beyond a "time killer, a time-waster" and 89 minutes of your life you'll never get back.