Code Name: The Cleaner
squeaks by in living up to the reputation of its star, Cedric the Entertainer. The movie does entertain, but just barely and pretty much only because of the skill we've come to expect from Cedric as
an entertainer. In another actor's hands, this freewheeling spy spoof could easily have turned into a schizophrenic dud. The movie still has a little split-personality problem between its aspirations to be a tense, Bourne Identity
-like thriller or out-and-out comic caper. Fortunately, the entertainer in him gives Cedric the credibility to juggle both genres with only a few dropped balls. When Cedric, as ordinary Joe (maybe) Jake Rodgers, wakes up in a hotel room with amnesia, a dead FBI agent, and a bag stuffed with cash, at least two people show unusual interest in a prized missing microchip, the money, and him -- in that order. Nicollette Sheridan is a bit too desperate in claiming to be his housewife as she whisks him "home" to their huge mansion. Showing the first shades of skepticism (and comic brilliance), the still-amnesiac Jake wonders, "I'm rich, I live in a big house and I'm married to a white woman. Am I Lionel Richie?" He also wonders if the gun-toting, butt-kicking Lucy Liu really is his mistress, as she claims to be. It all seems to good to be true. But the bad guys who just want the microchip don't care, and the genuine thriller mayhem and laugh riot gags that fly by don't give Jake much time to think that maybe he is just an ordinary janitor who has wrong-manned his way into a massive spy vs. spy cliche. There are a couple of fantastically funny supporting roles for additional distraction. DeRay Davis steals the spotlight as Jake's wannabe-rapper janitor pal, and Niecy Nash (of Reno 911!
fame) also chomps hard on the scenery as a sex-crazed security guard. Food Network fans will get an unintended chuckle from seeing Mark Dacascos, the suave and sybaritic "Kitchen Stadium Chairman" from Iron Chef America
playing head cheese of the bad guy contingent. In all, it's not worth the audience spending too much time thinking all this through either, especially when Cedric's doing his thing (the clog dance and grandma-spanking scenes are highlights). Maybe someday they'll let Cedric off the thinking leash altogether -- perhaps in Code Name: The Entertainer
? --Ted Fry
The laughs fly like bullets in this action comedy about a man with amnesia who can't remember whether he's a super spy...or a janitor. Jake Rogers (Cedric the Entertainer) just woke up in a hotel room next to a dead CIA agent and a briefcase full of money. Things go from bad to worse when his blonde bombshell wife (Nicollette Sheridan) arrives to inform him that he's a Special Forces Operative entangled in a high-level Government conspiracy. But nothing seems to add up as Jake digs deeper into the case. Teaming up with another beauty from a past he can't remember (Lucy Liu), this custodian of comedy needs to get a clue before the bad guys take him out with the trash!