Agent Cody Banks
Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
Kids Teens Family
Family Action Adventure Comedy Crime Romance Thriller
1 hr. 42 min.
Year of Release:
March 14, 2003
Spies in the Bible
“Save the world. Get the girl. Pass math.”
It’s official. The MPAA is now trying to expand the boundaries of PG films. Not only will parents and discerning adults continue to have to screen PG-13 movies for offensive content, but now they must also place PG releases under microscopic scrutiny. “Agent Cody Banks” is the second release in 2003 to contain more than a PG share of offensive material, the first being “Kangaroo Jack”. According to the new farcical rating system, a PG film can apparently contain wall-to-wall violence, racial stereotypes, toilet humor and surprisingly explicit sexual innuendoes (voyeurism included). It is becoming increasingly clear that the MPAA is in serious need of reform and is now officially irresponsible in EVERY ratings category.
MGM studio’s version of a kid’s spy/action film pales in comparison to the tasteful Dimension studio release of “Spy Kids” and “Spy Kids 2”. Both of these movies were fun, in addition to being value—and family-centered. “Agent Cody Banks”, however, is the most violent kids movie since, well, “Die Another Day”.
This film stars Frankie Muniz (“Malcolm in the Middle,” “Big Fat Liar”) as a young CIA recruit. He is portrayed as smooth and resourceful as an action hero, but extremely shy around girls. Cody’s gifts were discovered at a phony CIA summer camp.
Now to have a true 007 rip-off, you must have an evil villain who’s preoccupied with world domination. Enter the evil Brinkman (Ian McShane) and his co-conspirator Molay (Arnold Vosloo of “The Mummy”). They plan to exploit Dr. Connors (Martin Donovan) tiny naobot technology. These naobots were created for noble environmental purposes like cleaning up oil spills. Brinkman is going to use them to destroy all the guidance systems in our missile defense system.
Cody Banks’ mission, whether he accepts it or not, is to get cozy with Dr. Connors’ daughter Natalie (Hilary Duff). Can Cody overcome his shyness of girls? Can he stop the evil Brinkman? Can he get his driver’s license in time to drive really cool cars? The answers to these and other questions are more than obvious in a script that is very weak despite having five different writers (another example of quantity not equaling quality). Aiding Banks in his quest is Ronica Miles (Angie Harmon). Ronica is his CIA handler and is always found in sultry and revealing outfits that tempt our 15-year-old agent to use his X-Ray glasses to check out her undergarments. Not even the gadgets and eye candy are enough to save this predictable excuse for a kids movie. Even the character of Natalie spends most of her time as a damsel in distress (“help save me”).
My strong recommendation is to skip this movie. It doesn’t hold a candle to the imaginative “Spy Kids” series. Your children deserve more than parents being portrayed as clueless and women presented as mere sex objects. Don’t they?