Agent Cody Banks
1 1/2 stars

review by Stephen Notley

Pickings are thin in Agent Cody Banks. I don't know why you'd be bothering to watch it in the first place, but maybe you're supposed to take some kid to a "family" movie. It could happen. And there you'd be in the theatre, watching Agent Cody Banks, and probably, mostly, you'd be bored.

People like Malcolm in the Middle, but does that liking translate into any particular need to see star Frankie Muniz in his very own spy-kid movie vehicle? I can't really figure it. What else is there? Muniz's girlfriend in the movie is Hilary Duff, a perky blonde, apparently the star of some popular teen show called Lizzie McGuire. She's pretty perky, I guess. She only has one job, which is to smile at Muniz no matter what, and she flashes her star-wattage teeth at all opportunities. Then there's Angie Harmon as Cody's stern but busty minder who frowns at him. That leaves Muniz as Cody to bounce back and forth between smiles and frowns and respond to each with his patented wide-eyed stare. That's what amounts to a movie these days.

The premise is pretty light and played for relatively few laughs. Muniz is a CIA agent. His parents don't know; he gets trained every year at summer camp. Oh, and he turns into an "uh-uh-uhh"-ing idiot whenever he talks to girls. Too bad, then, that he's got to get the cute girl to invite him to her birthday party so he can find out that her father is selling evil nanobots to z-grade Bond bad guys.

Agent Cody Banks is entirely generic; four screenwriters scripting from a fifth guy's story makes for a mostly flavorless ball of dough. The one noticable notion is that they toss in a couple of real-world gadgets along with the fake movie ones. The Segway roller makes its movie debut here, uselessly zipping CIA agents around in the background at the magical CIA headquarters. And then there's the Solotrek, a real-live one-man helicopter, and they used the real prototype in the movie. They didn't actually *fly* the prototype, of course; they just filmed it, and special-effected it into the story. Problem is, cool as the Solotrek will be when it actually works, in a movie it looks really crappy and boring. 

I can't possibly remember any of the jokes, if jokes there were, though I do dimly recall something about someone who had farted. And I certainly recall that there were ripples of chuckles as Muniz would make a face or squirm stutteringly in front of the girl. But in an age when the real James Bond sex and violence is barely entertaining anymore, why bother with a watered-down James Bond riff with no real sex or violence? Without the wild imagination of Spy Kids, Agent Cody Banks is a just a shrinkwrapped product, a movie-like thing stamped out for a demographic. There must be something better to see. Hell, Edmonton is hosting a film festival. Go see one of those ones. And hey, check it out! Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is playing at the Paramount!