family  movie review



Movie Review: Agent Cody Banks

Donna Schwartz Mills


Agent Cody Banks
Reviewed by Donna Schwartz Mills

Studio: MGM-UA
MPAA Rating: PG - for action violence, mild language and some sensual content 
Mom Rating: 4 out of 5
Kid Rating: 5 out of 5
Cast: Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Angie Harmon, Keith David, Cynthia Stevenson, Arnold Vosloo 
Writers: Scott Alexander, Ashley Edward Miller, Larry Karaszewski, Zack Stentz
Director: Harald Zwart

Yes, the premise of "Agent Cody Banks" is strikingly similar to the "Spy Kids" series, and no, the Cody production team is not as wildly original as the former series' Richard Rodriguez. But if your family enjoyed "Spy Kids," chances are, they'll find this one just as entertaining - so who's to say there's no room on the shelf for more than one espionage series with underage stars? Especially when it's as much fun as this one.

Cody Banks appears to be an average 15-year-old. He lives in a nice, modest house in a nice, modest neighborhood, has nice parents and a little brother who drives him crazy (but we can tell he's nice, too). He has average grades, needs a little nudging to do his chores and has trouble talking to girls. But he's keeping a secret from his family and friends -- he's an agent-in-training with the CIA.

"Cody Banks" was released by MGM-UA, the same studio that has brought you all those James Bond movies these last 40 years. The producers of this film have studied that formula and brought it down to kid size. Best of all, they have fun with it:

* An opening sequence where Cody uses his skateboard to save a baby locked inside a car that's careening down a hillside street. Of course, this has nothing to do with anything that follows it.

* An evil, foreign-sounding villain who is a threat to the security of
the world.

* Earl, a "Q"-type scientist (played by Saturday Night Live's Darrell Hammond) who provides Cody with a dazzling array of high tech toys that will prove useful on his mission.

* A couple of "Bond Girls" in the form of Natalie Connors ("Lizzie McGuire"'s Hilary Duff), who is the subject of Cody's mission and Ronica Miles, his CIA handler. Angie Harmon plays Ronica in the manner of the no-nonsense district attorney she portrayed on "Law and Order" -- with the exception of her attire, which is provocative -- probably more than most parents would like, and one of the reasons for the PG rating.

* Cody even gets to wear a tux and play roulette with the bad guys at Natalie's Monte Carlo-themed birthday party. I know this sounds like a weird theme for a teen party, even that of a wealthy one like Natalie, but we admired the way the producers worked this staple of the Bond films in.

As stated above, "Agent Cody Banks" is not rated G. Young children may be frightened by the villains and action sequences, and there is some violence (although nothing so graphic as what we saw in "Spider Man," which many families saw with younger kids despite a rating of PG-13). Harmon's clothes may be revealing, but she shows a lot less skin than the pop tarts who star in my daughter's favorite videos on Nick. One of Cody's spy gadgets gives him X-Ray vision, which he predictably tries out on a female character. Now, that's not something we parents would encourage, but it's probably what a real 15-year-old would do if given the chance. As it is all executed with
good humor, I found these scenes rather benign -- especially compared with what I endured watching "Kangaroo Jack," the last PG "family film" marketed to this audience.

The 6-year-olds in our viewing party truly enjoyed this movie and my
daughter has already asked if we can see it again. It's obvious that MGM smells a franchise here -- they are already gearing up to film a sequel in London this summer. They will have to hurry -- star Frankie Muniz is turning 18 soon and won't be able to get away with the kid act for much longer. Then again, look at how many actors have portrayed Bond over the last several decades. We could be taking our *grandkids* to see a future Cody Banks film... and wouldn't that make the studio glad?

Donna Schwartz Mills took film classes in college and spent 13
years working in the entertainment industry before "retiring" to
marry a "non-pro" (Variety's term for anyone in any other business)
and become a mom. Today, she's lucky if she can attend two "R" rated
films per year -- but she feeds her movie habit by dragging her
little girl to every family film that comes out, often on opening day.
She says she can't wait for her daughter to turn 17.

Donna is Webmaster Mommy of, a new resource for moms in Southern California. She is also the work-at-home expert behind and editor/owner of

This article provided by the Family Content Archives at:










(c) 2003 Caton Development, Inc.

family  movie guide