Following in the wake of Spy Kids and Spy Kids 2, Agent Cody Banks isn't exactly full of surprises when it comes to cloak-and-dagger juvenilia. The major difference is that Frankie Muniz, who plays a junior agent for the CIA, isn't a tyke. In fact, he's at that awkward age between boy and man ' old enough to notice girls, not necessarily old enough to get them to notice him. Muniz has a couple of nice scenes where the very presence of a girl delivers a shot of Novocain to his tongue. Agent Cody Banks is built around Muniz's in-between-ness, his almost freakish combination of adult and child, and the movie's often mildly entertaining, but it's mostly mild. Director Harald Zwart (One Night at McCool's, and let that be a warning to you) interjects all sorts of action sequences, most of them involving skateboarding and snowboarding. But XXX this ain't. xxx is more like it.
"Are those...books?" That's how Cody, working undercover as a scholarship student at a fancy prep school, comes on to Natalie (Hilary Duff), whose father is the absent-minded scientist for an organization bent on ' you guessed it ' taking over the world. Half the fun of the movie is watching Cody negotiate the treacherous waters of early-teen dating. And like the young Clark Kent in television's "Smallville," Cody can't seem to rely on his special powers. His kick-boxing prowess, his bedroom full of gadgets, his startling blue eyes ' none seem to help when it comes time to cold-call Natalie and ask her out. But that, amusingly enough, is his mission. Natalie could lead him to her father, who could lead him to the head of E.R.I.S., a SPECTRE-like organization that's figured out a way to inject ice cubes with nanobots that will then chew up their hosts like miniature Pac-Mans.
Or something like that. The villain (Ian McShane) is a disappointment in Agent Cody Banks ' neither as amusing as Dr. No nor as hilarious as Dr. Evil. But Angie Harmon, as Cody's agency mentor, ranks right up there with some of the best Bond women, packed into her skintight jumpsuits like a piece of fruit ripe for peeling. I'm sure the movie's target audience, which is several years younger than Muniz, enjoyed the sexual nuances of her performance. I know I did.