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agent cody banks
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Agent Cody Banks

Starring Frankie Muniz and Hilary Duff
Written by Jeffrey Jurgensen and Ashley Miller
Directed by Harald Zwart

IN SHORT: Fine for kidlets but it ain't Spy Kids 3. [Rated PG for action violence, mild language and some sensual content. 101 minutes]

When teenaged Cody Banks was shipped off to summer camp, his parents figured he'd be treated to a summer full of friendship and athletics. And boy did Cody get his parents' dollars worth! Scuba diving. Sky diving. Code breaking. Firearms training. Basic sabotage . . .

OK, we're exaggerating a bit there. One thing we see in the movie biz is the mindset that you can recycle the same story idea over and over again and still hit the bulls eye if the script is good enough and the surprises are big enough. The cynic in us would respond, yeah, and Shakespeare always killed off his main characters. So here comes another film in which a kidlet is a spy. The big switch is that the kid works not for some made up secret organization but the genuine CIA. Sure, the bad guys belong to a made up group but, hey, can you park your kids in the theater and grab a quick ninety minutes of downtime? Sure. Will you be able to plant and get full entertainment value for your ticket price? Nope.

Not that it doesn't try. The row of ten year olds in front of us were all bouncing up and down and applauding by film's end. We, as we write this a couple of hours after the screening, can't remember a darn thing about the movie. That pretty much puts Agent Cody Banks in the category of "bland" for those of us with adult eyes.

Dr. Connors (Martin Donovan) has invented "nanobots" cellular sized machines that can be programmed to eat their way through any kind of silica or metal. His employment for the evil Brinkman (Ian McShane) continues because the super-nasty evil organization of evil E.R.I.S. has threatened Connors' kid Natalie (Hilary Duff). Doctor C. has ten days to come up with thousands of these things, so that our nefarious bad guys can do their nefarious bad guy things. When the CIA realizes that Connors has fallen to the dark side, they put two and two together and assign their brightest teen super-agent, Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz), to befriend and protect the lovely Natalie.

Cody's one and only, big problem? He gets near a girl and loses all ability to talk. Any boy out there knows that feeling. Is there much more than that to fill out the running time of the movie? Yeah, but not much. We're more than happy to spend the time admiring the figure of the lovely Angie Harmon, as Cody's "handler," but that can only go so far. Agent Cody Banks is lacking in gadgets -- X-Ray specs and a souped up skateboard are about it -- and plot points but worked for the kids. Park 'em.

The most important of any of this is the simple statement that the kids liked it. Agent Cody Banks has nothing in it that would make adults worry about parking their kids and disappearing for ninety minutes. Kids love feeling grown up. If yours are of that age, don't worry about it.

We don't put ratings numbers on films that don't appeal much beyond a kidlet audience. Most will get a long shelf life as video buys, this one included. We leave it at that.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Harald Zwart
Click to buy films starring Frankie Muniz
Click to buy films starring Hilary Duff

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