A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Agent Cody Banks is a James-Bond-like action movie for tweens filled with smash-'em-up cartoon violence, particularly a final sequence that pulls out all the stops -- explosions, electrocutions, jet-ski chases, and more. Other scenes include multiple martial arts fights, wild driving, kids captured and held against their will, and some cartoonish scary villains. Many bad guys' off-camera deaths are a result of the young lead's heroics. Mild, campy sexuality includes some revealing clothing, a comic scene in which the young hero is instructed in ways to attract girls, X-ray vision glimpses of undies, and a few leering males and breast jokes. Occasional potty humor and coarse language ("crap," "screwed"), and twice the hero is asked, "Are you in Special Ed?" -- meant as an insult.
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What's the story?
Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) plays Cody Banks, a 15-year-old who has been attending a CIA-sponsored summer camp that has given him all the training he needs to be a junior secret agent. But when he gets his first assignment, to get close to Natalie (Hillary Duff, TV's Lizzie McGuire), the daughter of a scientist, it turns out that $10 million of training that covered every detail of combat and espionage left out one detail -- how to talk to girls. So, Cody gets some quick and confusing lessons and then finds himself in a new school, trying to make friends with Natalie. He finally gets the hang of it just in time to save the day when she is kidnapped and taken to that most popular of spy movie destinations, the bad guy's arctic secret lair.
Is it any good?
AGENT CODY BANKS seems like a combination of the James Bond movie Dr. No and 2002's Clockstoppers. Kids and teens will enjoy it, but it's not as imaginative and funny as the first two Spy Kids movies. Muniz and Duff are always fun to watch, and there are some nice stunts, especially a skateboard rescue of a toddler in a runaway car and a snowboard entry into the bad guy's arctic lair. Saturday Night Live's Darryl Hammond is a lot of fun as the equivalent of James Bond's "Q" character, the guy with all the gadgets. Angie Harmon does not have much to do except show up in a series of outfits more appropriate for Spy Barbie. And the movie wastes the time and talents of two of Hollywood's best actors, Martin Donovan and Cynthia Stevenson, as parents of the teens in the lead roles.
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