Agent Cody Banks (2003)

(In theaters, May 2003) This isn’t the first teen James Bond parody, but it’s a good one… that is, until it forgets to be a parody and simply apes the convention of the Bond formula. Frankie Munez is quite good as a truly sympathetic teen character whobecomes an “agent in training” for the CIA without his parents’ knowledge. The film depends on him and his charm does more for the film than any of the special effects. His struggles to combine teenage life with his covert mission aren’t particularly imaginative, but they’re a lot of fun. (The sequence where the elite CIA operatives help out for the housework is a highlight.) At least the particulars of the Bond formula are followed: Girls, gadgets and even a touch of gambling. Angie Harmon is almost too hot to be in a kid’s movie, but at least it’s something for the older teens to look at while the plot slows down. The film as a while is energetic. Stupid, too, but not much more so than, say, the latest Bond ripoffs for so-called “adults” (hellooo, XXX!) Alas, the charming quality of the first hour wears thin as the third act becomes a thrills-free carbon copy of the typical Bond ending, complete with an exploding fortress and the grotesque death of the villain. The overall effect is a disappointment, especially given the overall high level of quality of the Spy Kids series. Oh well. We’ll be there for the sequel.

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