Stars: * 1/2
Rating: PG for racy situations, inappropriate innuendo
Run Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
With two hot teen properties (Frankie Muniz and Hilary Duff) in lead roles, MGM has nothing to fear (ka-ching!) from this comedy-adventure that strives to be a James Bond spoof but fails to find its niche.
For a specific adolescent demographic, “Banks” is the goods. Muniz plays Cody Banks, a typical teenaged boy who travels by skateboard, despises math class, and can’t get the girl. In reality, Cody is a lot cooler than his gawky counterparts because he’s been covertly trained by the CIA as an undercover agent. Yeah, that’s right, the kind of guy with the cool gadgets, hyper-groovy stunt training, and a wickedly hot boss (Angie Harmon, strutting her stuff in a series of clingy, wet-dream “Charlie’s Angels” numbers).
Cody’s most important mission to date is every high-schooler’s fantasy – to belly up to campus dreamgirl Natalie Connors (Duff) in order to get close to her scientist dad, whose powerful Nanobots have the potential to take over the planet.
“Banks” screams desperation - scrabbling to rip-off the success of “Spy Kids” and the 007 series, and cutting corners to get the project in theaters before the hefty summer competition. Lack of style and clunky pacing undermine an uneasy onscreen relationship between adult and teen worlds – a vast, empty space where the twain cannot meet.
In a blatant case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, four credited screenwriters can’t develop interesting dialogue for their caricatured players. Nor do they grasp PG-inspired innocence, lacing their script with a surplus of inappropriate sexual innuendo. Duff makes the story semi-palatable by virtue to an onscreen charm that she regularly displays on TV installments of “Lizzie McGuire”
A few cute spy sequences spell harmless fun. But the conventional addition of silly bathroom humor seals the deal as a worthless waste of time.