After the success of Spy Kids (2001) and it’s first sequel, there were bound to be imitators. And that’s all I though Agent Cody Banks was back when it was released in 2003.
Now, with it’s recent appearance on the NetFlix® instant queue, I figured I would give Agent Cody Banks the review treatment. Would the film prove to be more than just another imitator, or did “Malcolm in the Middle” star Frankie Muniz choose poorly with his version of the spy spoof?
Frankie Muniz, who had already won viewers over with “Malcolm in the Middle” and his roles in films like My Dog Skip, seems at first like an odd choice for the role of kid super spy. But, his nonplussed mannerisms and insecurities that are so evident in “Malcolm in the Middle” actually translate well to this role. As a super spy, he’s decent, but it’s his character’s troubles with meeting girls that really help Muniz shine. His halting ineptitude at winning over the gals is just as charming as ever, and viewers will find him easily likable once he shows the audience he isn’t perfect.
As his target, and his soon-to-be love interest, Hilary Duff, then-Disney channel kid star thanks to “Lizzie McGuire”, has a much smaller role to play, and manages to flirt with this awkward secret agent without coming off looking too bad.
Angie Harmon, who would go on to co-star in “Rizzoli & Isles” (TV), is entertaining as the adult mentor for this young spy, and does a good job of playing a strong and sexy seasoned secret agent, even while taking a backseat to a kid on his first mission.
The storyline does a lot of spoofing on spy films, with Cody imitating James Bond and the like, all while adding a bit of a technological twist to each sequence – which helps them spoof the crazy spy gadgetry at the same time. There’s a bit of something for everyone, with the parents’ surprising ineptitude about Cody’s secret identity sure to please the younger generation, while the older generation can amuse themselves by comparing nearly every action sequence to their favorite spy films.
While Frankie Muniz has the spy gig down pat – even to the snarky attitude, it’s the stuttering haplessness he showcases when he’s trying to talk to girls that really will get viewers to find this teen spy entirely likable. Sure, it’s a ridiculous setup, but Frankie – with Angie Harmon’s guidance – helps to make Agent Cody Banks not just another imitator of Spy Kids (2001), but a fun family film all on it’s own.