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12 Agent Cody Banks (2003)

updated 24th July 2003
reviewer's rating
Three Stars
Reviewed by Jamie Russell
User Rating 4 out of 5

Harald Zwart
Ashley Miller
Zack Stentz
Scott Alexander
Larry Karaszewski
Frankie Muniz
Hilary Duff
Angie Harmon
Keith David
Cynthia Stevenson
Arnold Vosloo
Martin Donovan
Ian McShane
102 minutes
20th Century Fox
25th July 2003
Web Links
Frankie Muniz interview

Read our "Agent Cody Banks 2" set report

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Meet Cody Banks. He's 15, hates school, and loves skateboarding. Just your average All-American teenager, then? Well, no. He's also on the government's payroll, has a black belt in martial arts, and a wardrobe stuffed full of hi-tech gadgets.

More 007-teen than James Bond, this tongue-in-cheek secret agent movie tries to out-manoeuvre the family-friendly appeal of Robert Rodriguez's "Spy Kids" movies by focusing on an adolescent hero (played by Frankie 'Malcolm in the Middle' Muniz).

Recruited by the CIA, Cody's first mission (should he choose to accept it) is to foil the plans of a terrorist (Ian McShane) who's about to unleash a new breed of nanotechnology robots invented by a misguided scientist (Martin Donovan).

To save the day, Cody's got to woo the scientist's daughter Natalie (Hilary Duff). It should be simple, except this teen-agent is completely tongue-tied when it comes to chatting up girls.

Never quite as funny as it could have been, "Agent Cody Banks" is nevertheless far too genial to dislike. Proving he's well on the road from kiddie star to adult actor, Frankie Muniz makes up for "Big Fat Liar" with a seriously effective charm offensive, while director Harald Zwart piles on the gags (Cody's X-ray specs come with a 'Parental Control' option; the CIA headquarters PA system asks: "Would the owner of the silver Aston Martin please move their car?").

By aiming at a slightly older audience, it occasionally gets risqué, packaging Cody's handler (Angie Harmon) in a selection of Liz Hurley-style catsuits to keep boys of a certain age amused during the slow bits.

It's a clever tactic, but it misses the point. Anyone Cody's age will more likely be off watching "I-Spy", while younger audiences may well feel more at home with the unabashed family fun of "Spy Kids 3".

Find out more about "Agent Cody Banks" at
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