Let's just hope this is only a passing phase

March 14, 2003|By ORLANDO SENTINEL

Agent Cody Banks is rated PG and stars Frankie Muniz as a 15-year-old who rides a jet-powered snowboard and struggles with the usual teen troubles in high school. Kid stuff.

He also lies to his parents, drives recklessly, uses X-ray glasses to check out women's underwear and brawls with bad guys. He's smooth in a tux while gambling at the roulette wheel.

Where's his vodka martini?

Cody has been trained by the Central Intelligence Agency in a phony summer camp. He's trained in the martial arts and equipped with the gadgets and the moxie to save the world. Too bad he turns into a blushing stutterer whenever a cute girl walks by.

When Dr. Connors (Martin Donovan) invents tiny nanobots that eat through oil spills, the evil Brinkman (Ian McShane) conspires to turn it to his own purposes. The agency needs Cody to cozy up to the Doc's daughter, Natalie (Hilary Duff), and find out what's going on.

So, Cody transfers to her school and struggles to flirt, ingratiate or whatever it will take to win Natalie's trust.

Things blow up, a good guy is killed off camera, a bad guy is killed on camera and Cody fights with frying pans and his feet but never with guns.

Muniz is amusing. There's a funny scene in which a dozen CIA agents help him clean his room and his parents' house.

But this is a movie aimed at a narrow audience, "tweens." It's too violent for children and too recycled for adults. A new film series? Let's hope not. Muniz, thankfully, is outgrowing the part with every passing minute.

Agent Cody Banks

Starring Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Angie Harmon

Directed by Harald Zwart

Rated PG (violence, language, sensual content)

Released by MGM

Time 95 minutes

Sun Score *1/2

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