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Agent Cody Banks
2003 - PG - 95 Mins.
Director: Harald Zwart
Producer: David Glasser
Written By: Zack Stentz, Ashley Edward Miller, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
Starring: Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Martin Donovan, Angie Harmon, Darrell Hammond, Ian McShane, Keith David, Arnold Vosloo
Review by: Carl Langley

X button is punch, so triangle must be roundhouse. Yes!
With a touch of James Bond and a pinch of "Spy Kids" commingled together, this compound should have left some merciful sapidity. Instead, "Agent Cody Banks" falls nothing short of an acerbic and bland film. It tries to be catchy, but only appears to be sappy and by the end you are not laughing at its parodies, rather at the fatuousness. But with that in regard, "Agent Cody Banks" is not a horrible movie because, even though it is inconsequential, it is passably entertaining in a few areas.

The opening scene of "Agent Cody Banks" is misleading. Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz of “Malcolm in the Middle” fame) is skateboarding in the street downhill after a car with a kid who took the emergency brake off and believes he is going on a “fun ride.” Our hero weaves through construction, hops on top of the car, enters through the sunroof (because the kid locked the doors), and pulls the brake, coming inches from disastrously colliding with a passing train. In most films, this is a setup to display the natural talents of someone who eventually is recruited because of his/her gift. This is not the case in “Agent Cody Banks” and probably spared it from mortifying itself.

We discover Cody Banks is already a member of the CIA, although his parents are unaware of this. He spent his whole summer at camp a couple years ago, training to become one of the elite. Thankfully, the four credited screenwriters do not waste any of our time making Cody go through training, pouring what would have only been unvaried jokes into our laps, expecting us to bust out into a paroxysm of laughter.

Cody has one simple mission: to become attached to a classmate named Natalie Connors (Hilary Duff, from “Lizzie McGuire”) and get invited to her birthday party so he can spy on her father (Martin Donovan) and the evil men (Ian McShane and Arnold Vosloo) he is working for. The two malevolent criminals wish to use Dr. Connor’s invention of liquefied, microscopic bots that can eat through anything to disarm the United States of all their weapons (we could use this invention today, in the midst of our current situation), so they become defenseless. The only problem is Cody sounds like he should be in “Special Ed.” when it comes to talking to the female gender. Ronica Miles (Angie Harmon) is assigned to baby-sit Cody through his mission and assist him whenever he becomes tongue-tied around girls (although it is rather amusing he is suave around the much older, more resplendent Harmon – maybe it is because of the age difference).

An abundant amount of Bond is used in "Agent Cody Banks." Cody is flourished with high-tech gizmos from its developer (SNL’s Darrell Hammond), resembling Q from James Bond. Among these gadgets are – jet-propelled skis, a flying vehicle, suctioned-cup shoes to walk on ceilings, x-ray glasses (really used to see whether Angie Harmon wears underwear or not) and a wristwatch equipped with electric shocks. Intense action sequences, most familiarly the opening one, also have the same approach to the 007 films. Whether it is meant to be a pasquinade or not is unclear, but either way, any fan of Bond that has the strength to endure kid films, should find it diverting.

Most of the fun is watching Cody fail at wooing the opposite sex. The relationship between Cody and his obnoxious younger brother, Alex (Connor Widdows), is amusing when they fire back and forth ridiculed jokes at each other. Kids may be concerned how the romantic side of Cody and Natalie end up, but it is hard for people past that age to care whether the two will become involved or not. Miserably, the film only remains comical in the personal stature, becoming a rummy mess when it relies on its young stars and their gadgetry to produce thrills.

"Agent Cody Banks" might have fared critically better if it was an original idea. Robert Rodriguez and his films have the same tone, but have the slight edge because of its novelty. The target audience will acquire the entertainment that is sought with "Agent Cody Banks", but even then, they might be disgusted at how much is borrowed from their original gem, "Spy Kids. "
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

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