Agent Cody Banks

Year: 2003
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Harald Zwart
Writer: Ashley Edward Miller/Zack Stentz/Scott Alexander/Larry Karaszewski
Cast: Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Angie Harmon, Arnold Vosloo, Keith David, Martin Donovan, Ian McShane

The pitch; James Bond for kids. The strategy; rope in two marginally bankable teen stars, pay peanuts to a unheard of scripters and directors-for-hire and outsource the production costs by charging millions for the most staggering amount of product placement seen in a movie so far, courtesy of Apple, Segway, BMW and others. The payoff; make it look like a legitimate creative film project that features some cool technological gadgets when it's nothing more than an extended ad with a few actors in it, and pocket the difference.

I can imagine the pitch meeting, attended by the in-house ad representatives of some of the hippest technology companies in the world, saying 'our product can go here and do this', and 'our logo has to be visible for this long'. Cleverly disguised shots of an Apple iPod, Segway transporters and a BMW skateboad were sprinkled liberally throughout the film, soaking straight into the brains of tween consumers sitting in the audience.

In what probably had a working title James Bond Kid, a teenager (Muniz) trained by the CIA to be an undercover agent, is called up to duty when a nanotechnologist is set to work on some generic villain's evil scheme to take over the world. With generic henchman in tow (Vosloo - The Mummy from Brendan Fraser's hit for Universal), he has to fight an unbelievably cool CIA and super teen agent Banks, who has to get information about the scientist from his cute daughter Natalie (Duff, too hot to be so innocent). Problem is, he can hang off a helicopter, fight like a pro and sneak around the top secret lair, but he can't talk to girls.

The story adequately carries the characters and comedy and vice versa, if you don't mind swallowing half an hour worth of advertising with your ninety minute feature.

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