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Agent Cody Banks

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
Agent Cody Banks

from Film Forum, 03/20/03

Agent Cody Banks(MGM) is about a teenager working for the CIA. Like most movie superspies, he has superior gadgetry at his disposal, and an uncanny knack for narrow escapes. But unlike Bond, Banks (Frankie Muniz) has no skill when it comes to sweet talking the ladies. Thus, he runs into trouble when a secret mission to save the world involves befriending an attractive girl (Hilary Duff) at summer camp.

Mission: Implausible. Religious press reviewers add complaints of sexual impropriety to the chorus of critical complaints about the movie's mediocrity.

Gerri Pare (Catholic News Service) says, "As directed by Harald Zwart, the young actors, especially Muniz and Duff, are just fine, portraying appealing, sweet–natured characters. It's the adult performers who are uniformly dreadful thanks to a lame script [with] cardboard, clichéd characters."

Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) argues that the movie is "is more successful than we might expect, although I must sound a note of caution. A PG–13 rating would be more appropriate and representative of the film's content. It is a shame that the film is a bit too sexy for the audience demographic."

Phil Boatwright (Movie Reporter) agrees: "I question the appropriateness of the film's sexual innuendo and exploitation aimed at a preteen audience. Do your preteen daughters need to compare themselves to Angie Harmon? And do your preteen sons need one more media message implying that their female counterpart's worth lies in her outward appearance?" Likewise, Movieguide's reviewer says, "Parents should use discernment as to whether they want to endorse the planting of suggestive seeds of sexuality and parental disrespect into their children's minds." Steven Isaac (Focus on the Family) concurs: "Loads of big–bang violence, sly sensuality, and not–to–be–imitated attitudes can make a big impression on young kids … and teenagers."

Disgruntled, Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films) concludes: "Two years ago Spy Kids reminded us that the adventure of raising a family is a vital mission fraught with hazards. It's because of movies like Agent Cody Banks—and the MPAA's increasingly erratic ratings assignments—that a family outing to the movies can be one of those hazards."

Inappropriate for families? Hazardous? Holly McClure (Crosswalk) thinks otherwise: "I see sequel written all over this movie and deservedly so! This is a movie that doesn't insult your intelligence just because it's made for kids. It's a fun movie to watch with an interesting plot, great character portrayals, lots of action, incredible special effects and gadgets and fun nods to the adults. Parents, this is a movie your older kids and teens will enjoy—and 'secretly' you will too."

For mainstream press reviews of Cody Banks, click here.