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Agent Cody Banks (2003)

Save the world. Get the girl. Pass math.

Directed by:

Harald Zwart

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 102 minutes

UK Certificate: 12A

Country: United States

Just what the world needs – ANOTHER spy comedy. The difference here is that it’s virtually impossible to work out who the intended target audience are. With its 12A certificate, surprisingly high level of violence and casting of a tight-costumed Angie Harmon apparently with the sole purpose of providing over-age ogle-fodder, this could hardly be said to be for the little ‘uns. Then again, who over the age of 14 is going to be satisfied by either the low-grade wit or deeply unoriginal plotline?

The next problem is that Frankie Muniz, the star of the piece, is someone whose appearance I find deeply disturbing. His gargantuan head is far too large for his scrawny little body, and it worries me to see him placed in situations where he has to walk through narrow doorways or make his way along the inside of constrictive tunnels. In his role as Cody Banks, the mid-teen recruited to a top-secret mission by the CIA, he has to do both. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

Banks’ mission is to get close to popular schoolgirl Natalie Connors (Hilary Duff), in order to spy on her scientist dad (Martin Donovan). Daddy’s gone and gotten himself involved with a gang of crims who want to use his latest invention – tiny robots capable of munching their way through everything they come into contact with – to cause no end of mischief. Among the baddies on display are ‘The Mummy’s Arnold Vosloo, who appears to have had a nasty shaving accident, and the mahogany-skinned Ian McShane. Harmon’s role, meanwhile, revolves around looking after our hero whilst displaying as much of her impressive cleavage as is possible.

There are a couple of funny moments, but on the whole this is an unexciting and slightly amateurish production. It seems to be a cynical attempt at cashing-in on the recent success of the ‘Spy Kids’ franchise but, like the plans of the bad guys so often do, it looks sure to backfire.

It's Got: The horrendous sight of Ian McShane getting eaten from the inside-out – kids will pull back in horror. As will fans of ‘Lovejoy’.

It Needs: To realise that making a spy flick and packing it with high-tech gadgets is hardly going to impress many people any more – it’s not exactly new.

Alternatives:

Spy Kids, Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over

Summary

A disappointing mishmash of flat jokes, tired ideas and out-of-place violence.

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