Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry met Lloyd

Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff and Keith David
Directed by Harald Zwart
Running Time: 102 mins
Rated: PG

Cody Banks (Muniz) is an average, middle-class adolescent kid in LA. Unfortunately, while he wants to be good at most things, he excels at very little. Cody is a nerd. Almost by mistake the CIA recruit him to be a teenage, undercover spy. Cody thinks all his christmases have come at once. His extra curricular job is top secret, kept even from his parents.

Agent Ronica Miles (Angie Harmon) gives Cody a thorough training. Cody's first assignment is to gain access to the evil mad scientist Dr Connors (Martin Donovan) by becoming the boyfriend of his daughter, Natalie Connors (Duff). Only problem is that Cody gets all tongue-tied and gangly in front of girls. The safety of the world depends on our reluctant Casanova.

Made for US$26 million, Agent Cody Bank is a very expensive kids film. The money shows on the screen. For this genre the stunts are spectacular and the action scenes are tightly shot and edited. There are moments during which it feels like an IMAX film.

Agent Cody Banks shamelessly rips off all the familiar spy thriller stories we have come to know and love: the Bond series, Mission Impossible, and The Avengers. It even has a Bond girl, loads of gadgets and multiple product placement.

What it lacks is a new idea or a decent spin on the satire. Having a gorky kid play Bond is not enough. That idea runs out of puff very early on. It also a hard sell trying to convince us that Hilary Duff is 15. She looks 20.

This is not to say that the evil which Cody fights is lightweight. If the film was more dramatically constructed its young-teen target audience could walk away anxious about the possibility of an international biological war.

It's not, so it plays it cute until the end.

This film is only for Muniz and Duff fans and if you don't now who they are, this tells you everything you need to know.

Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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