Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 


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 satisfying stack of special features is part of the DVD Special Edition, and while some of the features may not be long, they’re filled with information and attitude.

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. 

From the development of the project to story-board comparisons and multi camera sequences, there’s plenty of additional footage to watch. I especially enjoyed the 10 minute Director’s Diary, in which Harald Zwart explains how his work process. We begin in his Santa Monica office, where he is sketching designs and end up on the red carpet for the film’s premiere. From the set and behind the scenes, we get a good sense of the atmosphere and we hear why the scene in which a (dummy) duck is kicked was cut out of the film. There’s an audio commentary with Zwart, Muniz and Harmon, eight separate featurettes which include Muniz training for the role, an in-depth tour of the set and costume designs, a look at the special effects, how the stunts were performed, a cast read through, deleted scenes and outtakes.

Good old-fashioned entertainment for young and old, Agent Cody Banks is a sure fire winner. Now let’s wait for the sequel!

Published March 11, 2004

Email this article



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

DIRECTOR: Harald Zwart

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

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16X9 Widescreen (2.35:1), Standard

SPECIAL FEATURES: deleted scenes, featurettes, audio commentaries, outtakes, multi-angle camera sequences, storybord-to-film comparisons, behind the scenes photo gallery, Easter eggs & trailers


DVD RELEASE: March 10, 2004

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020