You Can Thank (or Blame) 16-Year-Old Robert Rodriguez for His Performance in Thumbs Up spy boya.k.a. the strange but brilliant “Total Thumb” followers who both delighted and troubled many Millennials during their childhoods.
“I’m so bad at drawing hands, so I could only draw my thumb. When I drew it, it looked like a head,” Rodriguez, 55, told Decider in a recent Zoom interview. Rodriguez, 16, added a few thumb limbs, an outfit and an eyeball to the football. “[The caption] Say, “Play with eyeballs with your thumbs.” I won an art contest with it! “
Years later, in 2001 he brought Thumbs-Thumbs spy boyThis hit children’s action spy film tells the story of two kids who discover their parents are secret career spy agents. The film’s success launched a franchise, which eventually led to the release of a fifth film on Netflix, Spy Kids: Armageddon.
With a brand new cast, Spy Kids: Armageddon Living in the now-familiar space between reboots and remakes. Zachary Levi and Gina Rodriguez take over from Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino as the parents of a world-class secret agent. Everly Carganilla and Connor Esterson star as Patty and Tony when a bad guy (Billy Magnussen) takes all technology hostage. They must use their video game skills to save their parents and the world.
For fans of the original, there are plenty of references, from the OSS to Devlin (now played by DJ Cotrona instead of George Clooney) to the family’s safe house filled with gadgets. But it’s clear that the film, which Rodriguez directed and co-wrote with his son Racing Max, is more geared toward a much younger generation of spies than nostalgic millennials.Rodriguez told Decider how Spy Kids: Armageddon Something to do with the original, the future of the series and, of course, Thumbs Up.
Decider: There are a lot of interesting new things in this movie. I particularly like the uniform maker – it reminds me of McDonald’s iconic instant microwave. Is there a new gadget that you’re particularly proud of?
[Rodriguez holds up a prop of the “thought bubble” to his camera, which looks like a large twelve-sided dice with emojis on each side.]
Robert Rodriguez: I love uniform makers. I also like the thought bubble, it’s a cool idea. My daughter designed all the little emojis – you can pick an emotion and throw it at the bad guys instead of just blowing them up. Spy boys can never defeat the bad guys. They always change the bad guys in some way. So that sums up the whole idea of the series, which is that they can change emotions. If someone is being aggressive, let them laugh. This is a very simple, child-like solution. But it’s like, why didn’t someone think of this? Instead of dropping war bombs, drop peace bombs.
I love the whole safe house thing. My kids grew up with it too. Now they’re writing me and saying, “We have to bring back a safe house.” A lot of parents I know grew up watching these movies and now have kids of their own, so they can sit down and watch this with their kids. movie and say, “This is the movie I grew up on. “
As far as legends are concerned spy boy In the movie universe, do the Tango-Torrez family and the Cortez family exist in the same world?
There are some clues that they might! But we’ll have to see if we get another movie. It would be my dream if we brought back any traditional characters to tie the world together.
Are there any Easter eggs or references that you’re particularly proud of, or that you hope people will notice?
[Rodriguez holds up a copy of the “How to be a Spy” book, used by Carmen in the first film and Tony in the new film.]
Yes, there are a lot of Easter eggs. If you look closely, especially in the safe house, you’ll see that some of the stuff you really liked from the first movie is secretly hidden there, as well as a few other things. But I’ll let people discover that.
People my age have this knee-jerk negative reaction when we hear that our favorite childhood movies are getting remakes or reboots.what is your response to this Anyone else feel this way about this movie?
I think they have to see this movie. First, it’s really suitable for kids. The funny thing is, kids will watch this, and then the parents will go back and say, “Watch the original!” The kids will say, “This looks like a copycat” compared to what they just saw. The new one always becomes the one for the children – it becomes the one they were. That’s their mark. I think people are going to like it when they see it. I think it’s very authentic and made by the same people, so it comes from the same place. I think the things that were important to me when I made my first film are still important to me, if not more so. I think this is very true. It doesn’t get more true than this. This is the only series made by one family for other families. It’s based on our real life experiences, just like the first movie.
There’s a subtle but powerful anti-prison message at the end of the film when Patty says, “Throwing him in jail isn’t going to make him a better person.” What do you feel is the message there?
I’ll let the audience decide. Then a funny trick happened that I thought was cool and could only be done in a movie, which showed that her method actually worked. But you have to check it out.
Do you see this reboot as a franchise?Do you plan to earn more? spy boy Are there any movies with this actor?
I would love to make more. They were the most fun movies to make. When you come up with a story that could make for another movie, let alone five movies, you’re happy to keep doing it because it means you’re tapping into something families want to see. Moreover, it is very rare that things done today are not based on pre-existing materials. So if you come up with your own franchise and can make more franchises, you can definitely do that. Especially since its DNA involves my own family. The harder we work, the more family time we spend together. This is the ultimate. It provided material for the film. It provides the material for the film. This is the best way to live. So I would definitely like to do more.
You hinted before that you might connect this universe more to the original universe. Which characters would you like to see return in the upcoming film?
Oh, I love all these characters. The original character I came up with when I was 16 – which I drew and won my first art contest with – was Thumbs Up. So I would love to bring the thumb back.
Please tell us more about designing Thumb-Thumbs (“whole thumb” followers) when you were 16 years old.
My hand drawing skills are terrible, so I only drew my thumb. When I draw it, it looks like a head. So I turned it that way, and I drew it as an arm, and then the other arm, and then the legs, and I kept adjusting the angles of its limbs. Then I drew a little suit on top.Then they kick the eyeballs [the caption] Say, “Play with eyeballs with your thumbs.” I won an art contest with it!
Later I remember, when I tried to imagine a follower [Floop] What can be done is a robot. He can make it look like anything, and he’s a whimsical creator, just like I was as a kid. So he just thought, “Oh, I’ll just make them all with my thumbs. Why don’t I just make it the head and make it the arms…” But then he found out they were all thumbs and they couldn’t be made Too many things. [Laughs.] This is where it comes from. It was crazy to see McDonald’s toys – and later on, we sold toys too. There is a thumb. I was like, wow, this is my childhood.So I really tried to bring a lot of my childhood ideas into it [movies,] Because they’re truly made by kids, for kids.
I loved them as a kid, it was almost an uncanny feeling. The first movie was pretty scary!Did you make any effort to reduce some of the horror in the original? spy boy In the new movie?
No, the original spy boyWhat’s creepy is seeing the Fooglies, agents that shapeshift into these drawings or whatever anyone makes out of clay. If the drawings are rough, they become rough drawings. Any child of a certain age, depending on their age, will find anything that presents a conflict to be scary. But as I get older, I’m like, “Oh, this doesn’t bother me anymore.” That’s part of growing up – you can see things that used to scare you, but now you don’t. I see my kids come out all the time and get freaked out just because they hear sound effects in video games. I would listen and say, “Well, by next year, this won’t bother them anymore.” I understand why it bothers them now. Their imaginations were sparked.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.