Agent Cody Banks

 
Teen spy spoof with gadgets, girls is fun for tweens, teens.
  • Review Date: August 3, 2003
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 96 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Good triumphs over evil. In a fantasy world, kids can be as powerful and heroic as adults.

 

Positive role models

Though loving and kind, Cody's parents are gullible and ineffective. Adult authority figures (mostly members of a farcical CIA) are far less intelligent than their youthful counterparts, and are mostly rigid and clueless. One Asian stereotype -- a driving instructor -- speaks pidgin English and is an exaggerated caricature. Rich kids are described as "spoiled brats"; they harass and haze the hero. There's ethnic diversity throughout the cast.

 

Violence

Almost nonstop exaggerated action, starting with a baby at the wheel of a careening, out-of-control car and his rescue by a skateboard-riding teen daredevil in the opening sequence. From then on there are: fist fights, martial arts battles, jet ski and snowboard chases, a wild driving lesson, fires, crashes, launches through glass, a melting face, numerous narrow escapes, the "plastification" of a villain, a tense countdown to a massive explosion, and assorted falls, captures, and rescues. Despite all of the above, the violence is not played as real and most characters do not die on camera.

 

Sex

Cody’s statuesque CIA handler wears low-cut tops and bare midriffs. Some kids ogle girls' breasts; X-ray glasses reveal  girls' underwear; boys and men leer occasionally, once at a sexy holograph. In one comic sequence, Cody is instructed in seduction and attracting girls.

 

Language

Scattered potty language: "crap," "screwed." Twice Cody is asked, "Are you in Special Ed?" which is meant as an insult.

 

Consumerism

Cap'n Crunch, Albertson's Markets, Seattle's Best Coffee, Lo-Jack, Ruffles chips.  Clearly identified autos: Volvo, GMC, Ferrari.

 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Agent Cody Banks compares with other spy movies -- both silly and serious ones.

  • Do you like Freddie Muniz as much in movies as you do on TV?

  • Have you ever thought about being a spy? Do you think it would be fun? Dangerous? Both?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 14, 2003
DVD release date:August 5, 2003
Cast:Angie Harmon, Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff
Director:Harald Zwart
Studio:MGM/UA
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Adventures
Run time:96 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:action violence, mild language and some sensual content.

This review of Agent Cody Banks was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byladybug! April 9, 2008
age 0+
 

They were trying too hard

Agent Cody Banks stars Frankie Munaz and Hilary Duff. They were using both of them. The movie did not entertain me. There was one gross part where the dress of a twenty year old went clear, and the actors laughed.... that was strange. I didn`t think it was that good at all.
Adult Written byWhatdoIthink? April 9, 2008
Parent of a 9 and 12 year old Written byHighPlainsMom August 11, 2009
age 9+
 

Good Action Movie With A Few Low Points

Kids and adults will be engaged by the action sequences and Bond-like gadgetry. Good performences from the cast. I'm surprised no one has mentioned the fact that, for some reason, Angie Harmon's character is dressed in very "cleavage revealing" clothes throughout. There is also a moment when it is implied that her clothing has become see-through. I will never understand why film makers insist on throwing in these small but annoying moments of sexual innuendo into movies aimed at kids. The death scene (of a bad guy) at the end of the movie might be a little graphic for younger kids.

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