Code Name: The Cleaner

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +1

Content: -1

Cedric the Entertainer, Lucy Liu. Action/comedy. Written by David Rotman, Ryan Oxford. Directed by Les Mayfield.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A janitor awakens in a swanky hotel and discovers another guy in the bed dead! On the floor is a briefcase full of money. Suffering from amnesia, he is unaware that the day before he discovered some nefarious goings-on where he works. But before the baddies can kill him, they must retrieve a micro chip he doesnt realize he has. Befriended by two beautiful women, one claiming to be his wife, and being chased for an unknown reason, our hero decides he must be a secret agent. Comic situations mixed with chase scenes and provocative come-ons from the beautiful women ensue.

PREVIEW REVIEW: There seems to be a difference of opinion, here. I thought the film was a snoozer, whereas the audience seemed to enjoy it. Id look around the theater (what else was there to do) and see pleasant expressions on faces, almost as if they were watching a different movie. Indeed, I seemed to be the only one bored. Well, with the exception of the groaner behind me.

The story is so implausible with its numerous situations going beyond the realm of reality that the plot becomes more sci-fi than comedic. For instance, the lead is at the Seattle airport when suddenly someone shoots through the glass window at him. No one seems to react. No High Alert. No security. No police. No nothing. He just keeps running around the airport being car-chased by the villains. In another ludicrous situation, he disguises himself as a Dutch dancer (envision a corpulent black man in wooden clogs and lederhosen ha, ha) in order to elude the police and suddenly finds himself on stage having to perform a number with the group. No one in the dance team asks who he is, yet hes dancing in place with them. Magically he knows the choreography. Its pretty silly stuff.

I like Cedric the Entertainer, but in small doses. The producers mistakenly thought he was ready to take the entire burden of a movie on his shoulders. The truth is, hes still a supporting player. He goes on persona, but lacks any true acting ability and runs short of comic ideas. For instance, he gets the wrong impression that hes a secret agent and starts doing karate moves much like an eight-year-old whos just seen a Jet Li movie. That may be funny once but five times! This isnt a movie, its an unsold TV pilot.

Okay, now, about that screening audience. I think there are two reasons they seemed to be enjoying themselves. First, they got in free. It was a Wednesday night and nothing good on television. Second, they obviously like Cedric. And its difficult not to. As I said, hes not much of an actor yet but he has a likable screen persona. Sometimes people look for a film-going experience that doesnt test them. They just want to relax and let someone they like do all the talking. Well, in this film, Cedric does plenty of that.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
New Line Cinema

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Theres the occasional crude sexual innuendo.

Obscene Language: Around 10 uses of the s-word and numerous expletives (damns, hells, ass).

Profanity: One sweet Jesus.

Violence: Theres lots of slapstick pratfalls. Being a chase film, it has several gun battles, martial arts battles and car chases. Blood: Some blood on the dead man.

Sex: There are provocative dance sequences and the lead fantasizes about two women in brief apparel dancing for him; the camera hasnt met a female bottom it didnt adore; there are several suggestive sexual comments.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several comic remarks with sexual intent.

Drugs: None

Other: A silly side character wanting to do rap claims the cops like to shoot people in the back; there are a few crooked FBI agents willing to kill innocent people.

Running Time: 90 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.