Robert Rodriguez has had a rather eclectic film career. Though the Austin, Texas-based filmmaker has directed such violent, R-rated fare as "El Mariachi," "Desperado" and the recent gore-fest "Sin City," the father of four sons has also enjoyed success with his "Spy Kids" adventures. He even successfully reintroduced the old '50s movie experiment of 3-D in his last "Spy Kids" vehicle.
And now he's returned to the kids' universe with "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D," which opens Friday. The fantasy adventure revolves around a 10-year-old outcast, Max (Cayden Boyd), who escapes from the outside world -- squabbling parents, school bullies -- by creating the superheroes Sharkboy (Taylor Lautner), a kid who was lost at sea and raised by sharks, and Lavagirl (Taylor Dooley), a young woman with quite literally flaming hair.
Sharkboy and Lavagirl materialize at Max's school one day to ask for his help to save their home -- Planet Drool -- from being destroyed.
The film is aptly billed as a "Rodriguez Family Film," not only because it is PG-rated fare but because several members of his family were involved in the production.
Brother Marcel co-wrote the film with Rodriguez. The director's wife, Elizabeth Avellan, produced the film with him. And his sister Rebecca supplied the lyrics to Rodriguez's composition "Sharkboy & Lavagirl."
The movie, which also stars George Lopez, David Arquette and Kristin Davis, is even based on the "intergalactic journeys and superhero stories" created by Rodriguez's 7-year-old son, Racer Max. He was inspired to create the character while playing "shark" in the pool with his father. Racer Max soon began drawing the character and creating adventures for the boy, who sports gills and fins. To honor his son's contributions, Rodriguez named the lead character Max.
Racer Max also appears in the film, playing Sharkboy at the age of 7. Two of Racer Max's siblings joined him: His younger brother, Rebel, plays the superhero at the age of 5, and his other brother, Rocket, pops up in the role of Lug.
-- Susan King