Although best known for edgier fare, Rodriguez explored his lighter side with “Spy Kids” in 2001 and “Sharkboy and Lavagirl” four years later. This new movie ties directly into the latter, featuring the kids of those heroes as well as others — with names like Miracle Guy — brought together to save the world after their parents get quickly overwhelmed and captured by alien invaders.
Still, the focus is squarely on the children, a modestly appealing group led by outsider Missy (YaYa Gosselin), whose main skill lies in coaxing her peers about the need to operate as a team. That’s only one of the built-in lessons, in a “The children are our future” kind of way.
Unlike the aforementioned movies that feature high-school-age kids, the children are younger here, and the movie possesses a sensibility reflecting that even compared to, say, Disney Channel-type fare.
This was clearly made for kids, not critics, and the design and action are vibrant enough to divert them. Rodriguez — who also produced, edited and shot the film, working with his own kids in what’s clearly a family affair — is well-versed in superhero tropes for parents who can appreciate comic-book satire.
Add it up and “We Can Be Heroes” serves as a very minor addition to Netflix’s kids-and-family tier, for parents looking for something new to keep their tykes occupied. As an aside, the movie underscores the current state of streaming, where no title with a shred of equity in it — even one as weird as “Sharkboy and Lavagirl” — is ever officially out of the running to make a comeback.
“We Can Be Heroes” premieres Dec. 25 on Netflix.