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I did not see Sharkboy and Lavagirl (I’m sorry, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D) when it first came out in 2005. I was 22 back then and not in the film’s target demographic. But I have now probably seen it more than any other movie besides Big Trouble in Little China. The reason why? I have kids now! And my kids love Sharkboy and Lavagirl! “That’s Mr. Electricidad! Not Mr. Electricity, not Mr. Electridadada!” I mean, even my kids quote this movie, so we now have that bond of just randomly spouting off movie quotes in common. So, when We Can Be Heroes, the spiritual sequel to Sharkboy and Lavagirl, was announced, you better believe my kids went straight to dreamworld!
And now that we’ve all seen it (I’ve actually seen it 3 times now since its release), I can easily say that We Can Be Heroes is the PERFECT follow-up to Sharkboy and Lavagirl. Yes, even without Taylor Lautner. Now, if you’re reading this article, then I think it’s fair to assume that you fall into 1 of 3 camps (or all 3 camps, even): 1. You are a completist and must see every Robert Rodriguez movie, even the kid ones like Spy Kids. 2. You’re a fan of the original Sharkboy and Lavagirl and already saw this one and want to know my thoughts on the sequel, or 3. You have kids yourself and want to know if the film is worth their (and your) time. Well, I’ll address all 3 of those camps with as few spoilers as possible! Because we can all be heroes. Just for one day.
It's A Standalone Sequel, So You Don't Need To Watch The First Movie To Enjoy It
We Can Be Heroes is actually kind of weird, so I understand why it’s not called a direct sequel to the first movie. In the original, the characters Sharkboy and Lavagirl were really the creations of a young boy named Max. Max had a dream journal and he would have little adventures with his characters that managed to spill out into the real world. So, in a lot of ways, it was a film within a film that just so happened to merge toward the end. But We Can Be Heroes is completely different. In this film, the world the heroes exist in is the real world, so there’s no dreamworld or Planet Drool. As a comparison, think of the movie, Sky High if you’ve ever seen that banger.=
In fact, I get a lot of Sky High vibes in We Can Be Heroes in that the plot deals with superhero families. And while I wouldn’t necessarily say this movie is as good as Sky High, (it skews even younger), I would say that if you liked that movie, then you can also tolerate this one. And your kids will absolutely love it, so there’s that.
That Said, It Also Has Sharkboy And Lavagirl In It, As Well As Their Daughter, Guppy!
Taylor Dooley, who played Lavagirl in the first movie, returns, and she’s all grown up! And while the other Taylor decided to sit this one out, his replacement, played by JJ Dashnaw, is fine, even though he doesn’t talk. But the movie isn’t about the adults (more on that soon). It’s all about the kids. And We Can Be Heroes is a natural progression to the story since Sharkboy and Lavagirl had a child together named Guppy!
Guppy’s not the main character in this one, but she’s an instrumental part of the team. She has her father’s strength and teeth, and can chew up metal bars. She can also go into a shark frenzy, also like her papa (I kind of wish she had lava powers, too, like her mother, but oh well). So, basically, what I’m saying is, if you liked the first movie, then you’ll be rewarded for watching the second one to see the further adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl!
It Dials The Fantasy Aspect Of The First Movie Up To 11
The first movie has a lot of fantasy elements once the characters make their way to Planet Drool, but from the very first scene of We Can Be Heroes, there are fantastical elements present. The intro even has a new character, named Miracle Guy (played by Boyd Holbrook) confronting a legion of aliens, right off the bat.
And the movie just gets more and more fantastical from there. You have a character named A Capella who can move things by singing, a character named Noodles who can stretch like Mr. Fantastic from The Fantastic Four, and my personal favorite, Rewind, who can turn back time. Trust me, your kids will absolutely love how zany this movie gets.
It Retains The Campy Visuals Of The First Movie, Creating Consistency
Even back in 2005, I think I would have cringed at the visuals in Sharkboy and Lavagirl. They’re so garish and cheap-looking. But my kids don’t seem to mind them, and the more I watch it, the more I can appreciate just how different and weird the movie looks with its sharply bright colors and clearly fake visuals.
We Can Be Heroes has a lot of the same. Yes, I would say that the sets definitely look better since the characters aren’t shuttled off to some kind of alternate dreamworld. But the actual CG aliens and special effects in We Can Be Heroes are still really campy, which I think works in its favor since it feels consistent with the first film.
The Kids Are Again The Heroes, And There Are A Lot More Of Them This Time Around
I think my kids love Sharkboy and Lavagirl because it is distinctly a children’s movie. It’s not a movie like Soul, which is masquerading as a kids movie, but is really a movie for adults with kiddie elements sprinkled in. No, Sharkboy and Lavagirl is definitely for kids, and one of the defining features of that movie was that the kids got to be the heroes. Well, the same can be said of We Can Be Heroes, but with an “and then some” tacked on for good measure.
Because you get a lot more kiddie characters who get to save the day this time around. And unlike the first movie, the kids actually have to save the adults. If there was ever an empowering movie for children, it would be We Can Be Heroes.
So, is We Can Be Heroes a good movie? Well, no. Not if you’re an adult anyway and are just watching it by yourself. But if you have kids in the room, then there are a lot worse ways to spend 100 minutes. Or 300 minutes, if you’re like me. In fact, I’ll let you know how I feel when I’m at the 1000 minutes mark. I might change my opinion then. But for now, it’s pretty good film for kids.