Five years before Taylor Lautner ranked 2nd on Glamour’s “The 50 Sexiest guys of 2010,” that donned a shark suit through molded abs to belt out a song around dreams. In 3D.

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This was the magic of The Adventures that Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, a youngsters movie on which filmmaker Robert Rodriguez offered not simply as director, but producer, co-screenwriter, visual effects supervisor, director of photography, editor, camera operator, composer, and musical performer. Inspired by a story composed by Rodriguez’s son, the film adheres to a boy called Max whose wonderful creations composed in his dream journal concerned life. With its bright, over-the-top visuals and shamelessly indulgent fantasy story, Sharkboy and also Lavagirl is a movie countless have seen and also still don’t believe.

When Netflix asked Rodriguez to do a brand-new movie for the streaming business — after seeing the success of not simply Sharkboy and also Lavagirl on the platform, but Rodriguez’s other kid-tailored movies, the Spy kids trilogy — he no intend to do it a sequel. But while designing the heroes for a new adventure movie, he kept coming back to the idea of shark powers.

“We cracked the code 15 years ago,” Rodriguez joked in an interview with

At the point, the figured why not?, and incorporated a grown-up Sharkboy and also Lavagirl, in addition to their superpowered kid, into his plans. The result was We can Be Heroes, due the end on Dec. 25. Rodriguez stated neither he no one Netflix realized simply how big the fanbase for the movie was till the first images and trailers come out and people cheered in absolute happiness on society media.

There room surely dozens, if no hundreds, of kids movies the hit theaters climate immediately cleared up into a life ~ above a dusty shelf the VHS tapes (or perhaps much more accurately in this day and also age, the edge of part obscure streaming service). What to be it about Sharkboy and also Lavagirl that makes so many remember it years later? ns turned come the net in wishes of recognize late-millennials/early-Gen-Z cuspers the the net who could have the answers. Struck v doubt because that a moment, ns wondered if anyone would also weigh in; however within an hour that searching, I obtained so numerous DMs I had actually to close mine inbox, lest i be crushed by the load of Sharkboy and also Lavagirl fervor.

What provides Sharkboy and Lavagirl so iconic come a details sect of late-teens and twenty-somethings? here’s what lock told me.

Image: dimension Films

Is Sharkboy and Lavagirl just so negative that the good?

With a 19% on Rotten Tomatoes, Sharkboy and also Lavagirl earned noþeles but an important acclaim. Reviews of the moment pointed to the gimmicky 3D effects and amateurish storyline. “It’s terrible 3-D,” said Richard Roeper the Roeper and also Ebert, “I think the story is devastating as well.” Ann Hornaday that the Washington Post listed that the “movie fails on nearly every level.” Melinda Ennis the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asserted it “a half-baked civilization no child would want to visit.”

Nora, that watched the movie as soon as she was seven, states that she now appreciates Sharkboy and also Lavagirl for the nostalgia value and the memes that have come from the too many dramatic scenes and also kooky characters. But she admits, “Even together a kid, it no really make sense, and also I believed it looked ugly.” Still: Twilight hunk Taylor Lautner in a shark-themed muscle suit.

“I thought there was a many wasted potential,” TechRadar editor Henry St Leger, 26, recalls of his initial reaction. At the time, when compared to the more polished Spy kids trilogy, he uncovered Rodriguez’s bubbly monitor up contempt lacking, citing a moment where Max needs to go come sleep in order to development the plot as an instance of its weird pacing. Nowadays, he harbors warmer feelings in the direction of Sharkboy and Lavagirl — that no Spy children 3: video game Over, yet it went large with the imagination.

The movie’s Letterboxd evaluate are possibly the greatest testament to it’s strange, separated legacy. There space many bad reviews that simply outright speak “it fucking sucks,” yet plenty of customers take a restrained kind of criticism, saying, yeah, it’s a negative movie, but wasn’t it a delight?

“This is nearly an difficult movie to rate but I feel choose I have to provide it something. I haven’t watched this in about ten years, yet it’s a movie I thrived up with. It’s absolutely a bad movie, yet one ns can’t provide a fifty percent star to,” writes one user. “This movie was way ahead the its time,” writes another, that still only provides it one star.

But there are additionally tons of passionate, optimistic reviews ~ above Letterboxd.“Exemplary. Paradigmatic. Quintessential. Iconic” begins one, with another calling the “Revolutionary.” part genuinely prayer the movie, especially as an essential part the childhood, if others take it a bit of a hyperbolic tongue-in-cheek approach (“Tarantino wishes he had the balls,” because that instance). There is likewise someone that wrote DREAM DREAM DREAM DREAM over and also over (they rated it 2 stars). The reviews operation the gamut yet what they every share is passion and the fact that no one who’s seen this movie forgets it.

The extreme visuals?

There space kid-friendly movies with actually polished production worth — Disney Plus’ Secret society of second Born Royals is a recent example — however Rodriguez go in the opposite direction v Sharkboy and also Lavagirl. Garish colors and bold architecture choices lug everything from a world made of ice cream to Taylor Lautner’s shark abs to George Lopez’s confront suspended ~ above a spherical electrical robot thingamabob v lightning eight to life. Robert Rodriguez rendered the unreality of one animated movie in live-action.

Image: measurement Films
are exactly how I constantly picked movies together a kid,” claims Lily, 20, that points come the same year’s Herbie fully Loaded as an example of a movie lacking shade palette. “I remember see <Sharkboy and Lavagirl> at a young age and constantly feeling a little bit sad there weren’t an ext movies that were willing to be as weird and what and also visually exciting as it,” states Kajel, an additional Twitter fan. In his mind, what Rodriguez to be chasing back in 2005 is appropriate up there through Charlie and the cacao Factory and Into the Spider-Verse in state of unique visual flair.

Since Sharkboy and Lavagirl was a greatly home-brewed adventure movie, v Rodriguez making use of whatever modern technology was at his disposal to pull turn off the mind-bending visuals, numerous of the impacts from the film didn’t period well. Countless of those i spoke to would argue they looked cheap and gimmicky even at the time. But revisiting the movie in 2020 no damper the experience.

“‘I think it especially stuck v me native a visual facet <…> the overall look is for this reason fun and striking,” Mack, 19, explains. “Upon rewatching it this year ns was quiet mesmerized by s appearance just like I was together a child.”

Image: dimension Films
Sharkboy and Lavagirl lacks the dissonance of CG that got to for realism at the time just to watch worse as technology evolved. The happy nature of the movie, an unified with the truth that the impacts didn’t watch “good” even in 2005, method the movie’s strange style could never go out of date. Few movies have adopted the intuitive appeal that a children coloring book, and in the grander sense, the untamed creativity of playtime.

“All that the poor CGI scenes wherein they are in this dream landscape speak to me deeply for part reason and to this particular day I still choose that beforehand ‘00s cheap impacts aesthetic,” states 21-year-old Twitter user Johan Colli. “But largely I loved the it’s literally about your desires coming true and also blurring the line between what is real and also what isn’t.”

The larger-than-life characters?

A lot of of world I spoke to pointed to Taylor Lautner’s Sharkboy (and particularly the very forceful dream song he sings) as one of the standout features, yet he wasn’t the only treasured character. The truth that the movie put the youngsters front and center — they are the ones conserving the day — yes, really made an impact on young audiences.

“Getting come watch kids work together, no grown ups, was what really offered this movie because that me and also it’s tho the factor I love it today,” says Shaye Wyllie, one editor in ~ Popcorn and also Tequila who first watched the movie when she was 13.

Watching the movie as a kid, 23 year-old pop society writer Matt loved how strong both the superpowered leads were. It to be Lavagirl, he recalls, that made a particular impact top top him.

“It felt really good to see children being powerful and especially girls,” he tells me. “There to be never plenty of girl heroes in media and also to me the felt special; every one of my friends to be girls and I regularly identified much more with girls 보다 boys.”

At the core of the story is Max (Cayden Boyd), the young boy who created Sharkboy and Lavagirl in his dream journal in response to his very own struggles v his parents’ rocky marriage. He is the love of the movie, even if the doesn’t have fantastical superpowers. The various other side characters all feel choose hyperbolic kid-movie tropes — the school bully, the average teacher — which adds come the currently surreal world. Cultivation up with the movie means eventually establish that well-known actors prefer George Lopez, Kristin Davis, and also David Arquette committed fully to these roles. Millicent Thomas, a writer who’s held screenings of Spy Kids, claims the adult performances in youngsters movies have the right to make or break them.

“You’ve obtained to be IN it, friend know?” she says. “You can not laugh at it, it has to be laughed with.”

Image: dimension Films

The unabashedly kid-centric storyline?

Robert Rodriguez unapologetic mission with Sharkboy and also Lavagirl to be to entertain his kids. The story was written by his son. His daughter helped and also wrote the song. With each other they do a residence movie through a function film budget. This to be detectable to youngsters who dreamed of seeing their own pretend gamings one day brought to life.

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“There to be something around the in its entirety theme of dreams that yes, really resonated v me together a kid, and it still offers me this emotion I practically can’t describe,” Mack says. “It just practically makes me think things like magic and also those crazy atmospheres on other planets really could exist — the really renders me feel like a kid again.”

Thomas taken into consideration Sharkboy and Lavagirl to it is in “sheer cinematic perfection” once she very first saw it as a kid. And also now? “Honestly, my reaction hasn’t readjusted one bit,” she says. “I can analyze, appreciate, and notice an ext things together a movie student and also writer, however it still gives me the very same feeling the did when I was a kid and also I adore every second.”

Image: measurement Films
She points come the idea that children can execute anything in the movie, the their story were elevated come the center. They were activity heroes, however kid-sized with boy interests and also kid wants and also dreams.

Sharkboy and also Lavagirl made united state feel prefer our stories and ideas to be important and could aid us in life,” says Thomas. “What son didn’t save a dream journal and try and do their own characters after they witnessed this movie?”

For part who flourished up through it, reaching adulthood method a chance to re-superstructure the film through their kids.

“Even though ns think the super lame now and also I can tell it wasn’t that an excellent of a movie, ns still i will not ~ mind sitting down and watching that again through my 8-year-old,” claims Wylie.

Why has the unlikely, critically maligned Sharkboy and also Lavagirl endured? By all accounts, the quietly ended up being known together a joyful solemn event of the strength of imagination that enjoy it childhood dreams. The feeling may not it is in there because that those that watch it because that the very first time together an adult. Because that those who prospered up through it, revisiting the movie just brings joy. That garish, it’s gimmicky, the is hopeful and brilliant and inspiring.

It’s pure childhood whimsy encapsulated in a method that not plenty of — if any — movies dare broach. And that is why, after see it for the first time in 2005, we still think the Sharkboy and also Lavagirl.

The Adventures of Sharkboy and also Lavagirl in 3-D is accessible to stream on Netflix. The sequel is the end on Dec. 25.