“Secret Headquarters,” from directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, is essentially a superhero movie made for kids – a light-hearted, low-stakes action blockbuster in which a coterie of brave teenagers must defend the earth by wielding an array of otherworldly powers. The story is very similar to “Spy Kids” (2001), Robert Rodriguez’s whimsical spy thriller about preteen siblings who discover their parents are world-class secret agents. In this film, a boy named Charlie (Walker Scobell, “The Adam Project”) deduces that his absentee father (Owen Wilson) is leading a double life as an Iron Man-like hero named the Guard. Charlie discovers this after he and his friends stumble upon an underground lair under his house; as in “Spy Kids”, the veteran parent quickly finds the need for a junior backup, which the fearless little kids are all too eager to provide.
A movie like “Secret Quarters” seems intent on giving kids the opportunity to see themselves saved the day with superpowers, allowing young actors to participate in the kinds of CGI-laden battles of the universe’s fate usually reserved for adults. The effort seems somewhat redundant to me. When the kids are just doing kid stuff – playing softball, worrying who to ask at the school dance – “Secret Quarters” sounds mischievous and mischievous about something like “The Goonies.” When the kids pick up some of the Guard’s superpowers and start flying around and fighting the bad guys, it feels like…well, another superhero movie. The similarities offer a believable reminder of an important failed “Secret Headquarters” distinction: most superhero movies are already aimed at kids, even if they don’t feature any.
Rated PG. Duration: 1h29. Watch on Paramount+.