Agent Cody Banks stars Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) and Hillary Duff (Lizzie McGuire) in a James Bondish romp aimed squarely at the preteen and teen market.
Several years ago the CIA started a special program for Agents in Training. When children of outstanding intelligence or unique talents showed interest in subjects that drew the attention of the government (reading spy magazines, researching conspiracy theories on the net), they would be approached and sent to a special summer camp. A summer camp run by the CIA that taught them weapons, hand-to-hand combat, explosives defusing, any and all skills needed to be a secret agent. Their parents were never the wiser.
A supervillan, Mr. French, is planning to rule/destroy the world (as is mandatory in any spy movie) and he and his evil sidekick Molay (Arnold Vosloo -- Yes, Imenhotep from The Mummy with a freaky-deaky clouded contact lens in one eye and a rather disturbing scar across his throat) are pressuring the skittish Dr. Connor to give him the way to do it.... In this case Nanotech. Small nanites that can dissolve metal, flesh, anything including the guidance systems to ICBMs.
Dr. Connor has a lovely daughter, Natalie, his only link with outside world. Enter Cody Banks. Highly trained, courageous, intelligent... and completely inept with girls, Cody is placed into school with Natalie and his mission objective: Get close to her and get invited to her birthday party. His briefing on her is complete. She likes T.S. Elliot and horses, and turquoise jewelry.
His initial meeting with Natalie is almost painful as he stammers and blushes his way through trying to put two words together for her, until he finally asks if she's carrying books (Yes, she is. This is Chemistry class) and then saying how much he loves T. S. Elliot. What a wonderful woman writer.
Can we say "Strike out"?
They actually progress to where she actually likes him a bit and then the fun starts...
Angie Harmon is Cody's CIA handler/partner, and seems to fill out her share of skin tight white leather mini dress outfits and stiletto heels, showing an amount of cleavage and leg, but never too much. Her presence made my husband a happy man, too. The innuendo as it relates to 15-year-old boys is more gentle and humorous than offensive, and never in your face.
The movie has James Bond style gadgets specifically geared for the younger set. One of the funniest moments in the movie was where Cody was equipped with his gear and $5000 in cash. When he asked for a car, they refused to give him one. Upon his statement that he needed to impress the girl, they handed him a skateboard. A BMW skateboard, sleek and silver, with hidden gadgets. Truly, a skateboard worthy of a secret agent.
Several missions, fight scenes (one done in the restaurant kitchen with 2 cast iron frying pans that reminded me a tad of a Chan movie), chases, and scenes of various spy gadgets being used later, you have a nice resolution to the story and a happy ending, as all movies for children should have.
One does have to suspend belief quite a bit. Surely the CIA doorman is not that much of an idiot, and surely SOMEONE would notice a kid with a laser cutting a hole in the secret lab's air return (because of the smoke I saw coming off the cut), and surely the CIA wouldn't be willing to do his homework and chores in return for his working for them, but still... Don't we do that with James Bond all the time?
This was an enjoyable movie. I caught myself guffawing out loud several times, and there's just something about Muniz. He's so gosh darn cute with those big, blue, sincere eyes. Something about them just makes you WANT to like him and makes you WANT him to succeed.
And he did succeed.
Reviewed By: Irene Ferris