Age six to ten audiences usually get the short end of the stick when it comes to major feature films. Although technically films like "Elf" and "Toy Story" target this demographic, the marketing people insist that these productions incorporate adult elements and humor to expand the target audience and maximize attendance; these are called "family films" and the additional elements take much away from the identification experience that children most enjoy. The only escape from these multi-generational things are preschool stuff like "Clifford's Really Big Movie" and "Muppets from Space" which no one in the 6-10 group would admit to watching, let alone liking.
Then along comes Robert Rodriguez with "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl", a film that gives 6-10 audiences exactly what they want without even the slightest attempt to appeal to older viewers (well maybe middle schoolers will get crushes on Sharkboy and Lavagirl). Since this is a new animal to most critics, it gets blasted for not being what they wanted it to be, a family film. And teenagers complain that it is not as good as "Spy Kids", a Rodriguez film that not only targeted a broader audience but which most of them watched several years ago when they were preteens. To be fair, while Rodriguez did not make "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl" for 14 year olds who saw "Spy Kids" 4-5 years ago, the distributors did attempt to market it to those audiences-who are now angry about being misled although I think the trailer gives a pretty accurate representation of the film.
So don't let the negative reviews and comments discourage anyone in the target audience from seeing this film. There are plenty of positive reviews and comments from critics who have a clue about Rodriguez's intentions and from the viewers in his target audience. There will be a lot of Sharkboys and Lavagirls out trick or treating this year and the film will become a classic to those who first see it at a young age.
Which is not to say that only those in its target audience will enjoy the film, it is a fun children's tale that might be described as a cross between "The Wizard of Oz" and "Yellow Submarine". In one respect it is better because almost all the actors are kids; Rodriguez understands that a lot of adult characters in a children's film is a less than zero situation. And it has very good messages: emphasizing the value of dreams, how dreaming better (i.e. unselfishly) increases that value, and how working to make your dreams come true maximizes that value (the young hero's name is "Max"). Plus Sharkboy and Lavagirl are friends who demonstrate a willingness to risk their lives to save each other. It is entertaining just to watch kids (both girls and boys) get into it.
Speaking of less than zero, the advantage of seeing this on DVD versus in a theater is having the option to watch in 2-D. The 3-D version subtracts instead of adding, as much of the brightness and life of the film are lost to the crude 3-D cardboard glasses process they used. The only useful thing about the 3-D (other than a mildly interesting visual effect for those who have never experienced it) is the interactive aspect; as signs flash on the screen telling when to put on and take off the polarizing glasses. The DVD contains both versions and the 2-D one is first rate.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.