Code Name: The Cleaner (2007)
Critic Consensus: Code Name: The Cleaner is a limp action/comedy flick that alternates between lame, worn-out jokes and cheesy martial arts.
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Critic Reviews for Code Name: The Cleaner
Do anything: rob a petrol station, superglue your eyelids together, chew on broken glass, just avoid at all costs.
There's some pretty good improvised shtick from DeRay Davis as a wacky janitor. But these are small pleasures in a movie that never really generates any serious laughs.
Ponderous wisecracks and cloak-and-dagger high jinks pass for comic intrigue in this hapless mix of yuks and kicks.
How do films this stale and generic continue to get made, let alone with topflight talent? Cedric has been stealing scenes from bigger names for nearly a decade; he deserves better than a few amusingly-improvised minutes at the end of his own movie.
Audience Reviews for Code Name: The Cleaner
I've always felt that it's a little problematic if your gag reel is funnier than your comedy film. At least in films like this, that are designed to be as broad as humanly possible and 'as funny' as possible. Chu and Blossom, a review that I wrote not that long ago, didn't end up being a hilarious movie. I'm sure its gag reel would end up being funnier than the actual movie. The point I'm trying to make is that this only applies to film where the entire goal is to be funny and not movies that have a story to tell with strong characters. Who went into this movie expecting strong character development? There really can't be anybody that truly expected that. I know for sure that I didn't expect any of that from this flick. I know I've always been a person who, at least, tries to go into films with an open mind. Yes, I even believe I went into Jack and Jill and Grown Ups 2 with an open mind. I think a lot of people expect to go in wanting to hate those movies, but I don't. I want to like movies. Why would I want to watch a movie that is gonna make me want to pull my hair out and make want to go on a crime spree? I don't wanna watch movies like that. When I watch a movie, as little hope as there is for that particular film being any good, I want to enjoy it. I don't want to hate it. This is one of those films for which there was little hope of it being any good. That's just the way it is. A janitor, who's lost his memory, thinking he's a secret agent spy, who finds himself in the middle of this conspiracy involving some computer chip. How much do you think you can draw from this premise? Then again, I suppose with a talented writer, you can get something out of anything, right? Where do I begin with this movie? I suppose let's start with its star, Cedric the Entertainer. I'm sure Cedric is a very nice man and I'm sure if, he's given the right project, he can be an entertaining comedic actor. I think his work in Barbershop speaks for itself. But he's just absolutely obnoxious in this movie. And not the type of obnoxious that Kevin Hart is supposed to be in, say, Ride Along, where he's still sort of endearing, in a way. I think that concept can work and it DID work with the first Ride Along. I'm not saying that it's a comedy masterpiece, but the dynamic of Kevin Hart being a tiny, annoying man versus Ice Cube's rough demeanor worked very well. You don't have that dynamic here, Cedric doesn't really play off of anyone, well, at least until Lucy Liu comes into the equation. And even then, it's still all about Cedric and not even necessarily the dynamic of his chemistry with Lucy. I'll be perfectly honest, I found Cedric to be completely unfunny here. I suppose that would have been clear when I said the character was annoying, but annoying characters can still be funny if they're well-written and/or the actor portraying the character does a good job. Look at Adam DeVine's entire filmography. This guy has made a career out of playing assholes that you just wanna punch in the face, but he's very entertaining at it. Then again, DeVine's characters are supposed to be that way. I don't think Cedric's character, in this flick, was meant to be annoying. I'm assuming they were going for someone that anyone could relate to. Let me tell you right now that they missed the mark completely. Jake, the janitor, is particularly infuriating when he starts acting like a condescending dick to his 'girlfriend' Gina, who's undercover as a waitress. Jake starts acting as if her occupation as a waitress prohibits her from understanding how serious his job as a 'spy' is. He acted like such a fucking dick to her. But that's not even nearly the worst part. The worst part of this is, and this is the worst thing this type of flick can be, the fact that it's completely unfunny. I get that this is not the type of premise that you can get a lot of laughs from, but you won't know unless you try. They did not make any attempt whatsoever to make this an entertaining movie. They relied on old and tired sitcom-y concepts and slapstick. I'm not saying that slapstick can't work in a modern film, but you gotta know how to properly build to it. Jackie Chan's works, at least his earlier films, relied as much on slapstick (inspired by silent film comedians) as much as it did on his martial arts ability. He was able to combine the two to create a unique and entertaining style. This movie uses slapstick because their script is shit and they needed something to put in trailers. This really is THAT bad of a movie. It would've gotten half a star if it wasn't for the fact that DeRay Davis and Niecy Nash made me chuckle a couple of times. More the latter than the former, but I'll take the positives where I can find them. This is the type of film that destroys careers. Why do you think that Cedric the Entertainer hasn't received any major starring roles in films since this? He also starred in The Honeymooners (which was released two years prior to this one and was also a critical and commercial failure). Lucy Liu's career was on the downslide at this point anyway, but this movie certainly did her no favors. Lucy and Cedric have continued to get work, of course, as supporting characters, voice over artists and other assorted TV roles. So it's obviously not a complete career destroyer, but it certainly halted Cedric's transition to a major comedy film star. And I can't say that I'm sad about that. Cedric just did a shitty job in this movie. He was annoying and he wasn't very funny. Parts of that might not be his fault, in that he was scripted to be this way, but a good comedic actor can take shitty material and, at least, elevate it somewhat. And I don't mean elevate to greatness, because that was never gonna happen, but I mean elevate it to where it's at least fine to watch. Cedric failed monumentally at elevating this to 'just fine' status. Perhaps I'm putting too much responsibility on his shoulders, but this movie still sucked no matter who was to blame. This was terrible and no one should watch this under any circumstances.
Because of its clever story, funny leading man and two gorgeous supporting actresses, 'Code Name: The Cleaner' is a welcome
A lightly funny waste of my cinematic time.
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