Agent Cody Banks (2003)
“Save the world. Get the girl. Pass math.”
Director: Harald Zwart
Cast: Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Andrew Francis
Synopsis: A government agent trains Cody Banks in the ways of covert operations that require younger participants.
Inspired, no doubt, by the success of 2001’s Spy Kids, Agent Cody Banks was released a couple of years later and was successful enough to warrant a sequel. It’s pretty much just James Bond for young teen males, and as such it’s pretty serviceable although grown adults — the males, at least — might have to resort to studying the curves of Cody’s CIA handler (Angie Harmon) to get through to the conclusion. The writers — of which there are too many to mention — have Cody more or less enjoying the modest fantasies of every teen boy: beating and humiliating the school bullies, driving a cool car, getting a hot girlfriend, being a secret agent, having others do their chores for them — you name it, every one of them is in there somewhere along the way. All it needed was for young Cody to ‘accidentally’ cop a feel of Ronica Miles’ breasts to be complete, but that would probably have resulted in a less accountant-friendly certificate rating.
Cody is played by Frankie Muniz (remember him?), hot off the heels of his success in the TV show Malcolm in the Middle. Cody once bought a spy mag which made him a prime candidate for inclusion in a covert CIA operation to recruit teenage kids to the cause, apparently. This operation’s so covert that not even Cody’s parents know. Cody’s chance to serve his country arrives when Dr. Connors (Martin Donovan) is abducted by the evil Brinkman (Ian McShane) and his henchman Molay (Arnold Vosloo), who plan to force the doctor to use his nanobots to hold the world to ransom. Connors has a teenage daughter, Natalie (Hilary Duff), to whom the CIA want Cody to get close so that he can get to the doctor through her. As plans to avoid world suppression go, it’s pretty shaky but that doesn’t stop our hero from giving it his best shot.
Agent Cody Banks is a pleasant enough movie which no doubt thrilled twelve-year-olds back in the day, and Muniz makes an engaging hero. His looks weren’t good enough to intimidate those who aspired to follow in his screen footsteps, and the idea of making him a tongue-tied loser with the ladies was something of a masterstroke. Don’t know what to say to girls? Don’t worry about it! Agent Cody Banks proves that’s no obstacle to one day having the back of your head nestling between the breasts of an Amazonian woman as you’re propelled through the sky by a jet pack! The explosive finale is straight out of the Big Book of James Bond Movies, with the kind of cavernous HQ beloved of Bond villains. How, you wonder, did they construct such a monument to evil without anyone noticing? Who cares — it’s all part of the fun. It could have benefited from more screen time for McShane and Vosloo though.