Code Name: The Cleaner (2007)

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Review #363 of 365
Movie Review of Code Name: The Cleaner (2007) [PG-13] 84 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $5.00
Where Viewed: AMC Westminster Promenade 24, Westminster, CO
Special Denver Film Society Advance Screening
When 1st Seen: 10 January 2007
Time: 10:20 p.m.
Film's Official Website
DVD Release Date: unscheduled

Directed by: Les Mayfield (The Man)
Written by: Robert Adetuyi (Turn It Up) and George Gallo (The Whole Ten Yards)

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Cedric the Entertainer (Charlotte's Web) • Lucy Liu (Lucky Number Slevin) • Nicollette Sheridan ("Desperate Housewives") • Mark Dacascos (Final Approach) • Callum Keith Rennie ("Battlestar Galactica") • Niecy Nash ("Reno 911!") • DeRay Davis (School for Scoundrels) • Will Patton (Gone in Sixty Seconds)

Soundtrack: order the CD below

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Some ideas for films must sound better in development than they end up in practice. Let's see. We've got a script co-written or maybe written and re-written by the guy who wrote Turn it Up and the guy who wrote Bad Boys, Bad Boys II, and The Whole Ten Yards. So, the writing credentials are fairly solid. Bad Boys was an enjoyable action comedy, right? Then you've got a director who brought us Encino Man and Flubber assigned to the project. Add Cedric the Entertainer, femme fatales Lucy Liu and Nicollette Sheridan, and villains Mark Dacascos and Callum Keith Rennie, and one would think it's a decently talented cast. Sure, it's not the A Team, it's the B team, but it's not the C- team. How then does one end up with a very C- movie? This is a bit personal, but, honestly, I sit here, a couple of days away from having nearly completed one year of going to the movies every day (I missed three days the entire year: two for a blizzard that closed all the theaters in Denver and one for Christmas Eve) thinking that this week I saw Notes on a Scandal (single independent theater release) and Little Children (single independent theater release) both of which I rated over $14.00 on the What I'd Pay (W.I.P.) Scale™ placing them among the best films of 2006—neither of which were released in my city in 2006, and neither of which will be seen nor heard by most of the people in the Denver metro area even if they run for three months which they won't, while this film, and maybe the title should have been a give away to some genius in Hollywood that this wasn't such a good idea, Code Name: The Cleaner some how gets a major release in hundreds of theatres across the nation. Now, honestly, I have nothing against light-hearted action comedies. There have been some great ones over the past 30 years that have infiltrated our every-day language. Who among us can go to a drive thru restaurant and not recall Joe Pesci's Leo Getz's routine about what always happens? But have we really become a nation where some of the most relevant, poignant films of our day will be confined to small art house releases where so few prints are made they have to be shipped around the country and practically rationed from the public that may or may not get an opportunity to see them even if they want to before the Academy Awards® show the end of February, while harmless but inane, completely useless films like Code Name: The Cleaner are cluttering up the digital marquee signs with a ridiculous 95 showings a day in Denver metro area theaters alone? Yes, 95 showings a day, I just counted it up on Fandango®. So, while I didn't mean for the review of Code Name: The Cleaner to turn in to a scathing indictment of USA culture, the owners and distributors of major motion pictures in the USA free advertising for the increasingly important Landmark Theatre chain (which, once again, is the only theatre chain in the USA that supports the independent and international film releases in the United States exclusively), but somebody has got to say something about this. Sure, the big theatre chains can go on and on about how they screened Little Miss Sunshine this past year. Woo-hoo! One film out of over 100 films they totally missed! And, they can claim that these 'art house' films as they tend to be called don't appeal to the mass audiences or else they wouldn't be art house films. Well, how do they know if there is appeal if they don't show them? I keep reading all these hilarious blog postings about the film critics and how they are totally out of touch with 'mainstream' USA filmgoers with their top ten lists because usually half the films on the lists are films most people have never heard of! Of course. But, they've heard of stinking lousy Borat I bet you. And they'll have heard of the utterly useless throwaway Code Name: The Cleaner. The only way, however, I can see to correct this dreadful situation is for people who claim to love the movies, to make a point of going to see the independent and international films in your area whenever possible. Don't go see Code Name: The Cleaner until after you've seen: Little Children, Notes on a Scandal, The Painted Veil, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen, The Illusionist, The Last King of Scotland, Pan's Labyrinth, Thank You for Smoking, The History Boys, Infamous, The Lost City, and On a Clear Day. If you have access to these films via a Landmark Theatre or some other source such as a local film society sponsored theatre, the kind that is staffed by volunteers and only runs one film a week, etc., make a point of patronizing these theatres and these films. Go see the films you've never heard of and you'll start to realize after a while that the reason you haven't heard of them isn't because they aren't wonderfully amazing, extremely good films that easily rank among the best movies of the year and some maybe the best you've ever seen starring some of the best actors, it's because bean counters in megaplex movie theater chains who decide which films will get wide release and which will not don't believe you really want to see lower budget, independent, or international films. Obviously, they think you want to see The Benchwarmers, The Hills Have Eyes, Let's Go to Prison, Silent Hill, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Black Christmas, Beerfest, Date Movie, Hostel, Jackass: Number Two, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, and When A Stranger Calls. These films all were deemed worthy of nationwide release of epic proportions and were all on the bottom of my W.I.P. Scale™ List for 2006 earning scores of $4 or less. Only you have the power to prove them wrong!

"The acting isn't that bad, the story isn't that bad, the concept is ok and, as I said, there are some funny parts."
As for Code Name: The Cleaner, well, this film does have some comedic moments. And, I as I said before, it does have some talented actors and artists behind the scenes. Cedric the Entertainer plays a dude who wakes up in a luxurious, queen-sized hotel bed, snuggling a dead FBI agent with no memory of who he is or how he got there and a brief case filled with $250,000 minus some money for a latte and some lottery tickets. As he quickly realizes he should probably skedaddle out of there, he's immediately captured…er…rescued by his 'wife', Diane (Nicollete Sheridan) who take him to 'his' Seattle-area mansion and tries to convince him he's a rich dude who lives in the lap of luxury hoping to jog his memory just enough to find out where he hid a top-secret computer chip that has been 'secretly' engineered to allow for encrypted code transfers by spy agencies back when he knew he was Jake Rodgers the janitor for Digital Arts, a computer game design company. Well, Jake, who begins to think he's a secret agent, overhears a plan to inject him with a combination of speed and truth serum and decides he'd better get out of there, narrowly escapes only to later find himself, using a claim check he finds in his pocket back at the hotel on the stage performing with a touring group of Dutch wooden shoe dancers. If it sounds like I'm making this up, well, I wish I were. More clues lead him to a diner across the street from Digital Arts where he meets a waitress named Gina (Lucy Liu) who turns out to be an undercover FBI agent whose been dating Jake to gain insider information on Digital Arts. She informs him, sadly, that he is Jake Rodgers the Janitor, not some fancy spy he believes himself to be and despite flashbacks he keeps having to intense military training that turn out to be scenes from his favorite video games instead of his real life. Yeah, I won't spoil any more of the plot of this one. I'd hate to give away the really big twists. I don't mean to take out my animosity toward the entire film distribution industry on this one, poor, sad, mis-hatched film in the middle of January. It's not that bad. I gave it more than $4, at least. The acting isn't that bad, the story isn't that bad, the concept is ok and, as I said, there are some funny parts. The plot is a real stretch of the imagination to try to conceive how this film simply wasn't sent straight to late-nite tv. The big finale fight scene at the end has to be one of the silliest and most ridiculous I think I've ever seen. Finally, it's totally unclear to whom this film was supposed to appeal? Are there sufficiently large droves of Cedric The Entertainer fans clamoring to see him in any possible film so as to propel this film to huge box office success? Because other than that, I cannot fathom who else would go to see this film. Lucy Liu fans? Nicollette Sheridan fans? Oh, I know it would be for the Reno 911, Niecy Nash fans! Yes, that must be it. Well, if this helps, she's got about 10 lines in the film mostly surrounding her disgruntlement about having to be locked in a trunk for 8 hours and the negative impact this has had on her hair. If you are looking for a really good comedy film in the sea of tense dramas out right now; and, I admit there are quite a few really awesome dramas out right now, go see Night at the Museum before Code Name: The Cleaner. It's not a great movie, but it's better than this one. Better yet, rent Click, Cars or Talladega Nights. When it comes to comedy, this week is a stay-home week.

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Cast Members
Cedric the EntertainerLucy LiuNicollette Sheridan
Mark DacascosCallum Keith RennieNiecy Nash
DeRay DavisWill Patton
Les Mayfield
Robert AdetuyiGeorge Gallo
CD soundtrack

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