1 item from 2003
Opens Friday, March 14
The most intriguing aspect of "Agent Cody Banks", starring Frankie Muniz as a seemingly typical teenager who's actually an elite undercover agent for the CIA, can be found in the opening credits.
There, listed among the eight (!) executive producers, are the names Madonna and Jason Alexander, both of whom, at some point, were evidently taken with the teen 007 concept.
Undoubtedly, the movie each was envisioning would bear little resemblance to the finished product -- a wholly uninspired "Spy Kids" knockoff that squanders some decent high-tech gadgetry with its slipshod plotting and clunky pacing that keeps grinding to a halt every time the anticipated action keeps threatening to make an appearance.
But while "Cody" may be creatively bankrupt, it will still probably nab some decent coin for MGM thanks to the pairing of Muniz and, more to the point, Hilary Duff, whose Disney Channel series "Lizzie McGuire" is a big hit with young teens.
Muniz, playing it "Malcolm in the Middle"-style, is the Cody Banks in question -- a skateboarding 15-year-old who keeps getting tongue-tied around girls.
Unlike other kids, however, Cody has been covertly trained by the CIA (at a cost of $10 million) as a bona fide secret agent in between doing household chores.
Naturally, Cody's other life goes undetected by his clueless parents (Cynthia Stevenson and Daniel Roebuck), who have no problem believing that his main contact -- the totally hot Agent Ronica Miles (Angie Harmon wearing form-fitting numbers from the "Charlie's Angels" collection) -- is the recruiter for a prep school that in reality is a CIA training facility.
For his first assignment, Cody has to cozy up to popular schoolgirl Natalie Connors (Duff) in order to get to her dad (Martin Donovan), a scientist who's developing a fleet of powerful, ice cube-encased Nanobots, which, if they were to fall into the wrong hands, could potentially destroy the planet.
It would have been nice if the credited screenwriting teams (Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz and Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski) had given Cody and company anything clever or original to say or do.
It would also have been nice if director Harald Zwart ("One Night at McCool"'s) had lent the movie any discernible kind of stylistic zip or sense of energetic fun instead of merely ticking off a generic checklist of tired spy-picture conventions.
There's a hasty, thrown-together feel to this filmed-in-Vancouver production that wastes the potential of a cool assortment of space-age stuff, including a fleet of Segway Human Transporters and the truly retro sci-fi-looking Solotrek XFV -- a vertical take-off and landing one-person air transport device currently restricted to military and paramilitary use.
If they had just fallen into more imaginative hands, the moviegoing world might have been safe from death-defyingly dull vehicles like this.
Agent Cody Banks
MGM Pictures presents
a Splendid Pictures/Maverick Films/Dylan Sellers production
Director: Harald Zwart
Screenwriters: Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz and Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski
Story: Jeffrey Jurgensen
Director of photography: Denis Crossan
Production designer: Rusty Smith
Editor: Jim Miller
Costume designer: Suzanne McCabe
Music: John Powell
Music supervisor: Julianne Jordan
Agent Cody Banks: Frankie Muniz
Natalie Connors: Hilary Duff
Ronica Miles: Angie Harmon
CIA Director: Keith David
Mrs Banks: Cynthia Stevenson
Mr Banks: Daniel Roebuck
Molay: Arnold Vosloo
Brinkman: Ian McShane
Dr Connors: Martin Donovan
Running time -- 95 minutes
MPAA rating: PG
1 item from 2003
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