n a strange way it's a testament to the originality of the
James Bond movies that most spy films since has either tried to emulate it or
turn the whole secret agent formula on its head in a sort of warped homage.
There was the grunge look ("XXX"),
the black look ("Bad
Company"), the slapstick look ("The
Tuxedo"), the parody look (the "Austin
Powers" films) and finally, the kiddie look ("Spy Kids" and
now "Agent Cody Banks"). Like the other homage/emulations, "Cody
Banks" offers nothing new besides it one twist -- in this case, teen Cody
Banks (Frankie Muniz) is a suave superagent but can't get the girls to stop
thinking he's a special ed student.
As is the case in these parody/tongue-in-cheek approaches
to James Bond, the plot of "Cody Banks" is so irrelevant that it begs
to be ignored. What we get is something to do with nano-technology and an Evil
International Criminal type who wants to destroy America blah blah blah. The
only worthwhile thing to mention is that the Evil International Criminal type
has Arnold Vosloo ("The
Mummy") as his oddball sweat pants wearing henchman. Angie Harmon,
formerly of TV's "Law and Order", provides sizzling sex appeal as
Muniz's CIA handler/partner. There hasn't been a sexier spy since Famke Jansen
burned up the screen in a tight miniskirt number in "I
As directed by Harald Zwart, "Cody Banks" is
actually a better movie than the other bastard son of James Bond called "XXX".
At the very least, "Banks" never entirely put me to sleep. There's
nothing remotely close to seriousness in "Cody Banks", which helps a
lot. Surprisingly, the sight of a teen shooting down a snowy mountain in a
jet-powered snowboard actually seems much more interesting and reasonable here
than when Vin Diesel was doing it in the other movie. I don't know what it is
about extreme sports in movies, but when adults do it it just seems somehow
inappropriate. Kinda like when you see adults try to skateboard in real life.
My guess is that kids that follow the TV careers of popular
actor Frankie Muniz ("Malcolm in the Middle") or leading lady Hilary
Duff ("Lizzie McGuire") will get the most bang from "Cody
Banks". The presence of the lovely Angie Harmon will certainly perk the
attention of adult males, but there's no way the CIA-as-playground gimmicks will
play to adults. Come on, CIA agents riding around on one of those weird
uni-go-kart-thingies? I think not.
There's plenty of action of the explosive and fisticuffs
variety in "Cody Banks" to keep most kids happy. Similar to "Spy
Kids", the guilty pleasure here is seeing a teen putting lumps on adults
and coming up on top. But whereas Robert Rodriguez really went for weird and
quirky with his "Spy
Kids" franchise, "Cody Banks" seems
more grounded -- at least by comparison. It should also be said that Frankie
Muniz handles the action sequences (when we see his face and it's not a
stuntman) like a real champ. The kid is entirely affable.
It shouldn't be surprisingly to hear that "Agent Cody
Banks" is a teen movie. While it does have spurts of action and comedy that
only adults can enjoy (the CIA propaganda "trainee video" on the
agency's recruiting of teens is a particularly great gag), the junior adolescent
antics of "Banks" will bore most adults. Then again, even some parts
of the recent James Bond movie, "Die
Another Day", bored me.