Photo courtesy of Jose Haro.

Spanish director Óskar Santos has a problem with today's kids movies.

The market's flooded with big budget cartoons focusing on graphics instead of story or adventure. What happened to the sort of live action kids films he grew up with, like Goonies, Back to the Future or ET

Santos uses those films as inspiration in Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang, which is making its US debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

(It's already the highest grossing majority Spanish film of 2013.) 

Based on Spanish comic characters, brothers Zip and Zap go to a boarding school where play isn't allowed. Headmaster Falconetti's motto: "Play breeds foolishness, and work breeds righteousness." But the boys play anyway when they meet fellow mischief makers Filo and Micro and dub themselves The Marble Gang. They're later joined by Falconetti's niece Matilda and go on an adventure to find treasure left by the school's original, fun headmaster. Basically, it's Goonies meets Holes with some of its own personality, too.

Parents will like it, but probably not a best of fest if you're over 14 years old. On the other hand, every kid in the theater was on the edge of his or her seat. The dialouge's witty, the special effects are seamless and the story is pretty smart. Then again, it also includes the stereotypical overweight kid, who gets distracted by cake in the middle of a scene. It's the first movie for three of the child actors and Santos' first kids film.

The message is never lose your inner child, which Santos clearly believes.

Overall: Great for parents once, but kids will want to see it again.

Upcoming Screenings

Jan. 25, 1 p.m., Redstone Cinema 2, Park City