Every so often, you come across a movie so downright terrible, so mind-numbingly dim-witted, that you leave the theater feeling physically exhausted. Code Name: The Cleaner is exactly one of those movies. It’s a film so densely packed with horribleness that it almost seemingly collapses upon itself into a black hole of suckitude from which nothing can escape, not even light or the audience’s will to live. I almost wish that the makers would come out and say that Code Name is in reality some type of highly experimental deconstruction of the modern American comedy, and for that reason is intentionally unfunny, but I have no evidence to believe that anyone could actually make a movie this tedious and dire on purpose.
In the film’s defense, it’s never Uwe Boll bad, but at least Boll movies are occasionally funny. Sure, the humor’s unintentional in Boll films, but they provide more laughs than you can expect to get from 90 minutes of Cedric the Entertainer mugging for the camera. You may also give points to Code Name for the lack of offensive material (though a case could be made that there is some homophobia). But some indecency might have worked to this film’s advantage — at least then Code Name might have been interesting. Instead, it just sits there grimly staring back at you, daring you to find it funny.
The film basically suits two demographics: Cedric the Entertainer fans and people who find beer commercials funny. The former because there have to be at least a few of them roaming the earth, and the latter because most of the material feels like it’s left over from rejected Bud Light ads.
Cedric (or does he go by “The Entertainer?”) plays Jake Rodgers, a man who wakes up in a hotel room with amnesia — not to mention in bed next to a dead FBI agent. Jake then spends the next third of the film believing he’s a secret agent, then finding out he’s actually a janitor, but still believing that he’s some type of super spy. This goes back and forth for the entirety of the movie, which might have worked if the audience had any real reason to care. As insubstantial a concept as it is, director Les Mayfield (The Man) gets all the mileage he can out of it, and even manages to throw in some stuff about military espionage and a few superfluous (not to mention flimsy) action sequences.
The general concept of this movie was more or less done almost a decade ago with the Bill Murray vehicle The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997) to varying degrees of success; it’s just too bad that originality doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite for getting movies made these days. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, crude humor and some violence.
â reviewed by Justin Souther