Main cast: Frankie Muniz (Cody Banks), Hilary Duff (Natalie Connors), Angie Harmon (Ronica Miles), Keith David (Mr CIA Director), Daniel Roebuck (Richard Banks), Cynthia Stevenson (Mrs Banks), Arnold Vosloo (Molay), and Ian McShane (Brinkman)
Director: Harald Zwart
This teenage James Bond spoof is pretty enjoyable and it’s also filled with enough in-jokes to keep the adults amused. Cody Banks is a sixteen-year old teenager who answers an magazine ad a few years back looking for a spy. Little does he know that it’s a real application by the FBI. Now he is recruited by the FBI to seduce equally teenaged Natalie Connors – “seduce” in the strictest G-rated context, of course – whose father may be in cahoots with bad guys to create weapons of mass destruction. “Mass destruction” in the strictest G-rated context, naturally.
Cody, however, is a very shy guy and is soon getting caught in lots of troubles involving not only matters of the opposite sex but also school bullies, evil villains that come out of the set of The Mummy, and of course, his annoying parents and lil’ brother. It’s all enjoyable in a kiddie fun way, and as a bonus, one can try one’s hands at “Spot the in-joke” games while watching this movie. James Bond tributes are especially abundant here.
I must say though: puberty is not Frankie Muniz’s best friend. He is looking too old to play fifteen or sixteen year olds. Agent Cody Banks doesn’t seem to know whether to cater to teenagers or Muniz’s target under twelve demographics. Therefore, there is a scene of a holographic Natalie coming on to Cody that is rife with innuendos, just as it is with a scene where the FBI people try to teach Cody on how to be smooth with gals. But these scenes are just awkward, like a dirty joke spoken in a convention attended by elderly nuns. Hormonal actions are pushed under the carpet, but at the same time, it is as if the film people are aware of how silly is the concept that a sixteen-year old will be immune to his hormones. They let a few hints slip that Cody Banks may be having some hormonal rumbles in his pants. They also slip in scenes of a shirtless Muniz as well as a locker room scene filled with enough young male flesh to make this movie a priority purchase for that section of the population that better hope the FBI don’t come knocking at their doors one day.
Tottering between unnatural enforced G-rated wholesomeness and full-blown hormonal overdrive, Agent Cody Banks, like its lead actor, seems stuck in a manufactured and ersatz “cute” movie that comes off like an aberration of nature. I just hope they allow poor Frankie Muniz to grow up gracefully and act his age one of these days. Something is not right when they keep forcing that aging teen to play the wholesome innocent kid long after he can lay claim to such state.