Spy Kids is an unusual franchise. The movies make a lot of money but are unusually expensive for something more or less shot in front of a green screen. Worse, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World looks it. The cast often appears to be posing in front of something that doesn't exist as they look at something they can't see.
All the Time in the World has a premise that draws upon the outer reaches of conspiracy theory. In certain pockets of speculation some people believe that time is speeding up at the behest of the world government in collusion with aliens and the technology they bring to earth. Thus the natural sensation we have of time speeding up as our minds mature is turned into yet another plot beyond our control. I am surprised that The X-Files never tackled the theme. But as a resident of Austin, the Vatican of conspiritology, Robert Rodriguez got there first in this film for which he takes sole credit for practicallly every fact; Not only did he write and direct the film, he shot and edited it and wrote the music. I am reasonably sure that many of his family members contributed to the enterprise.
Family is a theme or at least setting of the Spy Kids series. In the Rodriguez world view, though perhaps not in the Rodriguez world, family is sacrosanct, loyalty to one's family is paramount, and family ultimately is one's only true friend. Mr. Rodriguez could have directed The Godfather without missing a beat.
Even the villain has a family of sorts to which he must be loyal. TV's Jeremy Piven plays multiple parts all keyed to the idea of time and time passing. Rodriguez has woven numerous references to time and many puns on timekeeping into the script, and the aging actors from the early films return to remind us, as the Potter movies do, that time waits for no kid. In this story, there is a new family with young kids who are tangentially related to the family of the first films. There is a "wicked stepmother" (Jessica Alba) to the "adorable" children, and a new baby on the way as issue of her union with their father, a TV show producer named Wilbur (TV's Joel McHale).
All this family feeling hobbles the film, however. The villain isn't really scary. The kids are never in real danger. Resolutions come in happy threes. Family triumphs over all, and the world moves on, united. It turns out that there is something to be said for the dark threats beneath the surface of Disney's animated features. Joel McHale says it all – not as Wilbur, but as Jeff Winger in TV's Community (season two, episode two): "I used to run full speed through the boundless wilderness and now I'm in the zoo. Where the horizon is wallpaper and the air is stale and nothing is ever at stake." Here he indirectly speaks for a film that is assembled from unreal digital parts, one that lacks weight and suspense.