"Three kids on a mission … without permission" is an apt tagline for this kids’ Mission Impossible-like caper concerning three 12-year-olds – a rock climber, a computer genius and a mechanical whiz – who set out to rob one of the world’s most impenetrable banks. Their motivation, at least the girl rock climber Mandy’s, is that her father needs an expensive operation for a spinal injury. Her pals Austin and Gus want to help her because they are both sweet on her, and wouldn’t dream of letting her tackle something this crazy on her own.
With lots of high-tech action and adventure, this film sounds like the perfect sort of escapist entertainment for the young fans of Spy Kids and Agent Cody Banks. Talking with the film’s director, Bart Freundlich, whose previous films were the more off-beat independent features The Myth of Fingerprints and World Traveler, we wondered what attracted him to this movie. "I was drawn to the emotional core of the story, about how kids will do anything for their parents to be close to them, and to save them if necessary," he offers. "It’s kind of a morality tale, because they do this thing that’s clearly illegal, but they do it for all the right reasons."
Another motivator is that Freundlich is the father of a 6-year-old boy and a 20-month-old girl. "I wanted to do something that I could share with my kids," he says. Since the film is targeted at the 6- to 14-year-old range, his kids proved to be an asset.
"Being able to show dailies to my son is really great," he says. "He’d offer opinions like ‘that’s good’ or ‘that’s great,’ and then I’d know how it’s working for the under-7 set."
Coming from the world of more serious independent movies, Freundlich acknowledges that he found this sort of big Hollywood action/adventure challenging, but also enjoyable. "I don’t know why people think one only wants to do one sort of thing," he says. "I actually liked tackling the action sequences, but we didn’t want to get too far out there with the high-tech gadgetry," he admits. "Of course, kids couldn’t break into a high-security bank, but many of the things they pull off, from the stunts to the climbing and the go-cart racing, are fun and very real, like things that kids could really do."
The movie is rated PG.
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