It Stinks!

The verdict now seems to be in for Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, and the movie’s poor performance, critically and at the box office, has inspired a number of bad puns (including my own) on its use of Aroma-Scope, the scratch-and-sniff cards that were incorporated into the movie, a la John Waters’ use of Odorama in Polyester. Nikki Finke does point out in her “autopsy” (edit: forgot the link earlier) for Spy Kids that the film played much better to kids than adults, probably because Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino were MIA, while also noting that, despite more screen showing the film in 3D, more people saw the film in 2D. I actually thought the 3D aspects worked OK, but as usual, they weren’t really necessary and wouldn’t be worth paying for, especially for a family of three or four. The higher ticket price may offer yet another explanation for why I saw the film in an empty theater on opening weekend.

The Vulture offers a nice review of the Aroma-Scope aspect and confirms basically what I’d noticed: the production of scents was not up to par. Despite the fact that it would have been easy to manufacture the smells used in the film (bacon, candy, dog farts), very few of them resembled their source in the film and almost all of them were weak and difficult to detect, although that might be attributed to the quality of individual cards.

It’s also worth noting that my reaction to dealing with the card may have been somewhat generational. Rodriguez reports that he incorporated smell into the film because he observed his own kids’ behaviors with games and concluded that they would prefer something more interactive and engaging: “Just watching my own kids with interactive gaming, you ask them to watch a movie, it just feels so passive to them. I thought, this helps bridge the gap. It’s an interactive thing, almost like playing a game while you’re watching the movie.” Rodriguez added that test audiences with children also wanted to have some stinky scents in the film, which makes sense. But given critical and box office reactions, I almost wonder if Spy Kids 4D is guilty of not stinking enough?

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