Because of its clever story, funny leading man and two gorgeous supporting actresses, Code Name: The Cleaner is a welcome January surprise. However, to fully enjoy this comedy about a janitor with amnesia who thinks he’s an undercover agent, it helps to be a Cedric the Entertainer fan -- which I am. Cedric never fails to impress me with his special brand of humor as well as his ability to move so well in amusing musical numbers. Although this film offers only one dance sequence, it’s hilarious enough to satisfy me until I need another Cedric the Entertainer fix.
I should also mention I’m usually a sucker for movies about amnesia, even when the theme seems quite familiar. For example, Code Name: The Cleaner borrows heavily from The Bourne Identity. Like Matt Damon in the latter film, Cedric plays an amnesiac who begins to suspect he’s involved in covert operations after discovering he has certain powerful skills in hand-to-hand combat. Surely, his job as a janitor is a cover for his real work! However, Cedric’s character learns an entirely different truth than Damon's Jason Bourne did -- and arrives at it by going through situations that are a lot more fun to watch as he tries to remember where a valuable microchip is hidden and why anyone would kill for it.
Helping Cedric in his “true identity” search is Lucy Liu as his waitress girlfriend -- but maybe that’s just her cover. Who is she really? Liu does a bang-up job in this supporting role, which ends up being reminiscent of her Kill Bill appearance. And Nicolette Sheridan (from TV’s Desperate Housewives) reveals more than her acting talent as an evil femme fatale here. I heard my husband whisper “Wow!” when Sheridan came on screen clad in nothing more than a few strategically placed lingerie items.
But for most of Cedric’s fans, the highlight of Code Name: The Cleaner will probably be his hilarious perfomance while impersonating a member of a Dutch Dance Troupe -- wearing wooden shoes and a complete Dutch costume. In the hands (and feet) of someone like Jim Carrey or Steve Martin, this number might be done in an over-the-top manner, but Cedric plays it just right and wows the audience on screen as well as in the movie theater. How I wish there had been more of Cedric’s dancing in this film!
Code Name: The Cleaner may not be the greatest comedy ever, but it's certainly better than most films released during the January doldrums.
(Released by New Line Cinema and rated “PG-13” for sexual content, crude humor and some violence.)
Listen to Betty Jo's review of Code Name: The Cleaner at www.ReelTalkRadio.com.