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"Let the make up do the acting, yep, that's exactly what I did. I thought to myself, there's no reason to act like a dog or animal, or it'd get a bit unreal."  -Temuera Morrison on his role as a dog-creature in The Island of Dr Moreau
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz) seems like a pretty ordinary teenager – he loves skateboarding, hates doing chores and feels like a nerd around girls. But, unbeknownst to his parents (Cynthia Stevenson and Daniel Roebuck) and friends, he’s been recruited as a junior agent by the CIA, and after training at a facility disguised as a summer camp, is about to go on his first assignment. Under the guidance of his gorgeous ‘handler’ Agent Ronica Miles (Angie Harmon), his mission is to make friends with classmate Natalie (Hilary Duff) so he can spy on Natalie’s scientist father Dr Connors (Martin Donovan), whose development of a deadly fleet of Nanobots with the power to destroy anything is falling into the evil hands of Brinkman (Ian McShane) and Molay (Arnold Vosloo). 

Review by Louise Keller:
A teenage secret agent with gadgets, Agent Cody Banks is great James Bond-style entertainment for the younger set, complete with villains, flashy cars, curvaceous girls and loads of action. With a dash of verve from Spy Kids and a splash of warm humour from Big Fat Liar, the film is fun, playful and highly entertaining. There’s even a cheeky echo of the Bond theme sprinkled through the music. 

Much of the film’s charm lies in the fact that Cody is not a spy all the time, so we enjoy the contrast of his life as a regular kid with that of a super spy with all the spoils of the trade. The ideas are fresh and innovative and always well executed. And there’s hilarity when it comes to keeping Cody’s double life secret from his family. I love the scene when the CIA agrees to do Cody’s chores and homework, so he can concentrate on his mission to charm Natalie, and a team of professional lawn mowing specialists and cleaners quickly descend on his suburban house and perform ‘miracles’. Executing karate kicks and putting himself into all kinds of physical danger doesn’t phase Cody one little bit; it’s talking to girls that is his ultimate challenge. 

Wait until you see how the CIA goes about training him! Frankie Muniz is a terrific talent, making his ‘Banks, Cody Banks’ character wonderfully likeable. We happily go on the trip with him, as he makes use of his x-ray sunglasses, wrist-watch with stun-rays and jet-powered skate board. When he drives the red Lamborghini to Natalie’s birthday party at the waterfront mansion with pool, roulette table and high security science lab, we are as impressed as Cody. Ronica Miles works well as the voluptuous Agent Ronica (‘I’m not your partner; I’m your handler – like in the zoo’), and there are plenty of laughs when she keeps popping up unexpectedly in different guises. Hilary Duff is lovely as the high school dream girl (Angelina Jolie meets Kylie Minogue), and Arnold Vosloo makes an absolutely splendid heavily scarred villain. Muniz and Duff seem to be two perfectly normal teenagers thrown in the midst of an elaborate fantasy, and they pull it off beautifully. 

The Bond elements are cleverly integrated into the script, and the action scenes (set in striking snowy vistas) are impressive. Good old-fashioned entertainment for young and old, Agent Cody Banks is a sure fire winner. Now let’s wait for the sequel!

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Agent Cody Banks has a mission: to entertain pre-teens with the kind of daydreaming adventures that make growing up more fun than being growned up. It’s polished to a Hollywood shine, but it works on its own terms as an escapist outing; better this than the streets. Parents can safely send their children to Agent Cody Banks, in the comfortable knowledge that he won’t turn them onto drugs, or teach them bad language. He maintains a code of behaviour that is suitably borderline for his age group (or he wouldn’t connect with his audience) but with an underlying sense of decency. 

The elaborate plot is actually basic; scientist creates tool that can help or harm the world and the baddies are after it. The only variable is whether the scientist is a fruitcase or your everyday Martin Donovan - and the age of the hero: Cody is 15, which is young enough to fantasise and old enough to maybe do something about it. Frankie Muniz is an unglamorous hero, shabbily dressed to contrast with the power dressing of his CIA handler, Ali McGraw look-alike Angie Harmon. But Hayley Mills look-alike Hilary Duff is not given much to work with, blending into the background when she might have stood out. The major action scenes (like a snowfield chase) are pretty good, although a few of the effects are a bit ropey, and the general air of spy heroics is so familiar we tend to overlook the creative work involved in delivering it. With eight executive producers credited, including Madonna, as well as five producers, the film might have been top heavy, but there were four writers to easily balance things out.

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CAST: Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Angie Harmon, Keith David, Cynthia Stevenson, Arnold Vosloo

PRODUCER: David Glasser, Andreas Klein, David Nicksay, Guy Oseary, Dylan Sellers

DIRECTOR: Harald Zwart

SCRIPT: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski (story by Jeffrey Jurgensen)


EDITOR: Jim Miller

MUSIC: John Powell, James McKee Smith, John Ashton Thomas


RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 25, 2003

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