Archive for DeRay Davis

Codename: The Cleaner

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A janitor, Jake Rogers (Cedric the Entertainer), wakes up next to a dead body with no memory of who he is and how he got there, but gradually comes to believe he is a secret undercover agent, and after fleeing the hotel and meeting his wife Diane (Nicollette Sheridan) and girlfriend (Lucy Liu) Jake goes on one crazy adventure to find out who he is.

What people are saying:

Code Name: The Cleaner is a limp action/comedy flick that alternates between lame, worn-out jokes and cheesy martial arts.” 2 stars

“Although comprised of lowest-common denominator gags, it’s an oddly hard-to-follow affair, with good and bad FBI agents popping up everywhere and the plot only revealing itself in fits and starts.” 1 star

“Cedric is usually funny, but not here. Lucy Liu is a fantastic performer and can kick out the action, but her talents are wasted in this movie. Surprisingly unfunny and uninteresting, the idea was promising, and the execution was bad. I would recommend giving it a pass unless for some reason you can’t get buy without seeing Cedric on the big screen. ” 2 stars

“I managed to catch this film on cable years after it’s theater release. It was very much in the vein of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.Cedric plays a ne’er do well janitor at a video game and electronics company who learns of a plot to turn computer game chips into weapons smuggling and information smuggling defices. the problem is that he then get’s amnesia and begins to think he really might be a superspy. It was goofy and campy but had a kind of low rent charm all it’s own. Cedric the entertainer was good enough to get me through each scene and Lucy Liu was a nice treat to break up the epic stupidity of the premise. Once again, it was one of those films that was worth what I paid for it.” 3 stars

“The group I watched this with laughed and laughed, and what can I say? Laughter is infectious. There are good jokes in this movie, as well as very poor ones (see the joke about shooting a janitor in the posterior), but the overall feeling I get is “meh.” Cedric is at his silly best in this one, but fails to wow anyone. If you’ve seen one generic comedy starring a former big actor, you’ve seen them all.” 1 1/2 stars

Meet the Blacks

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

After obtaining a great deal of money, the patriarch (Mike Epps) of a black family decides they should move from Chicago to a posh neighborhood in Beverly Hills. However, they are soon terrorized by home intruders who want them out of the affluent community in this comedic spoof of the Purge films.

What people are saying:

“The movie as a whole is such an incompetent train wreck, you can’t look away, just to see how much worse it can get.” 1 star

“Totally surprised me that the movie was funny. The family left chicago for beverly hills, at first was really boring but then the movie picked up speed with every new character. The whole cast added charm with their wants, lacks, needs, fears and strengths.  ” 4 stars

“So bad it’s funny half the time, and just plain unenjoyable the other half, it’s a weak movie that only manages to make the Purge look worse than it already did. The horrendous editing, “cinematography” and stock noises make it appear as if the cast was also the crew.” 2 1/2 stars

“Lackluster and lacking. I guess it serves the purpose of what is meant to be, but it was even weak to be slapstick comedy. This is more for teens or those persons who aren’t really concerned with a script, point or direction.” 1 star

“Meet the Blacks is a painfully unfunny spoof of The Purge. Mike Epps tries in the lead role. But his character just isn’t likable or funny. The other actors are fine, just not funny. The biggest problem with this film is the script. The jokes don’t land. A lot of the humor is just racist. The film also fails at being a parody. The film doesn’t really spoof anything. It just takes place while the Purge happens. The story isn’t entertaining, but I could’ve forgiven that if the film landed any jokes. I literally fell asleep towards the end of the film. Overall, this pales in comparison to the Scary Movie franchise and even the A Haunted House movies. And those aren’t even good!” 1/2 star

Drumline: A New Beat

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2016 by Mystery Man

Drumline A New Beat

PLOT:

The story follows Danielle (Dani) Raymond (Alexandra Shipp), an upper class Brooklyn girl who defies her parents in order to attend a college in Atlanta so she can join – and revitalize – their once-prominent drum line. Dani’s quest to become the first female section leader of the drum line in the school’s history will be hampered by upperclassmen (including her cousin, Tyree (Jeff Pierre), her feelings for fellow band mate and rival, Jayven (Jordan Calloway), and the school’s crosstown rivals.

REVIEW:

In the marching band world, Drumline is both revered and reviled for what it did as far as bringing a legitimate marching band film to the mainstream, that is to say, one where the band isn’t full of stereotypical nerds, dweebs, and dorks being pushed around by the football team. No one really asked for a sequel, especially all these years later, and yet VH1 decided to give us Drumline: A New Beat.

What is this about?

A feisty girl defies her parents, classmates and rivals in her quest to lead her school’s drumline and help it reclaim its former distinction.

What did I like?

Honor thy elders. In sequels and reboots we are often privy to these small references to a character from the original. I believe the term they use for that is “fan service”. At first, I was expecting some of that in this film, but lo and behold we get two of the stars from the original, Leonard Roberts and Nick Cannon, to reprise their roles. Also, there is a mention of Orlando Jones’ character, Dr. Lee, as well, which was probably the best part of going back in time that this film could have done, save for the pictures and video we in Roberts’ office.

Familiar scenery. I was just up at my alma mater this weekend and, while much has changed, much is still the same. Take for instance, my dorm. It has now been refurbished into the administration/registrar/scholarship/financial aid office. I doubt anyone will be sneaking girls in through the window now! The football field is still the same, just a newer scoreboard and different turf. The same kind of thing can be said for the fictional Atlanta A & T. Many of the familiar settings can be seen, such as the football field (still no visitors bleachers), the band room (same murals), but we also get new scenery, such as the diner, so a mix of old and new. That’s how it’s done!

Shot out of a cannon. The original film would never have been anything without Nick Cannon. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny him that honor. With that in mind, it only makes sense to bring him back for the sequel. I’m just glad they didn’t try to change and “mature” his character and make our lead his daughter of some sort. Then again, that may have been a better angle for her, but I’ll get to that shortly.

What didn’t I like?

Carbon copy. I noticed this in this rash of sequels coming out many years after their predecessors, they all want to introduce new audiences to what made them great, but forget they need to move the franchise forward. Much of that is the problem here. If you just read the plot synopsis and compare it to the original, the only real difference is the leads have been gender swapped. All the major points from the first film are in this one, as well…daddy issues, fight at the game, relationship problems, friends hooking up, etc. The only thins missing was the rival band trying to steal Dani away, which would have made for a nice subplot, since the directors are brother and have their own issues.

Misogynist punishment. At the first game, it is learned that one of the senior drummers made sure that Dani didn’t get on the line, because he didn’t want “a bitch” on the Senate. If that wasn’t bad enough, he keeps saying stuff like all throughout the movie, even talking behind Roberts’ back (within earshot, mind you). Nothing happens to him, though. As a matter of fact, after the final performance of the film, he gets a big hug from his section leader and Roberts. WTF?!? The closest thing this guy got to a punishment was being shown up by Nick Cannon a la what Dr. Lee did to him in the first film. In most any other band, this guy would have been kicked out, or at least demoted, for such nonsense, but I guess this kind of thing can just slide with this band, or the band that they are based off of.

Low budget. When I was in college, I remember chatting with a girl who was in the original film. She went to Grambling St. University and said that they got paid for those scenes they were in. This time around, I guess they weren’t allowed to use real schools. Even the Georgia Dome appeared to be off limits. I can say that the Southern Classic, or whatever it is called, actually started happening after the first film, hence the change in name for this one…trademark/copyright reasons, I suppose. VH1 just doesn’t have the budget to pay for all this stuff the way a movie studio would.

Final verdict on Drumline: A New Beat? Well, everything that you would want to see in this film is there. High octane performances, over the top choreography, studio musicians playing music for bands that would never sound that good in a billion years, etc. Unfortunately, this film falls into the TV trap of today. What I mean by that is pretty people and their problems. The drama in this film did not need to take up most of its runtime, and then it was resolved almost as fast as a 50s sitcom! In good conscience, I cannot recommend this. Don’t waste your time, instead go back and watch the original with Nick Cannon. It is much more enjoyable!

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Fog

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 31, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

William Blake arranges to purchase half of Antonio Island, off the coast of Oregon, to establish a leper colony for his people. However, island residents Patrick Malone, Norman Castle, Richard Wayne and David Williams double-cross Blake. During a foggy night, they loot his clipper ship the Elizabeth Dane and set it on fire, killing all aboard. 134 years later, the residents of Antonio Island prepare to honor their founding fathers—the same men who burned the Elizabeth Dane—and a statue of them is to be unveiled on the town’s anniversary. During a boating trip, Nick Castle and his friend Spooner unwittingly disturb a bag containing a pocket-watch and a hairbrush from the Elizabeth Dane lying on the seabed.

That night, Nick meets his former girlfriend, Elizabeth Williams, who has returned after six months away. Elizabeth is shown the antique pocket-watch by Machen, an old man who found it washed up on the beach. He warns her ominously “if you touch it, things will change.” The watch begins ticking as Elizabeth holds it. She sees a hallmark on it, which includes a set of scales. Supernatural occurrences then begin to plague the town. Objects move by themselves, power outages occur, and the windows in Nick’s truck inexplicably shatter. Nick and Elizabeth then encounter drunken priest Father Malone, who is ranting about murderers and retribution. Meanwhile, at the local radio station, host Stevie Wayne gets a phone call from weatherman Dan about a large fog bank off the coast. Out at sea on Nick’s boat, Spooner and Nick’s cousin Sean are partying with two young women, Mandi and Jennifer. As the fog reaches them, the boat’s engine stops and the instruments break. An old clipper ship appears in the fog next to them. Seemingly possessed, Jennifer draws a set of scales on a misted window inside the boat. Unseen forces then horrifically kill Mandi, Jennifer and Sean. At Nick’s beach house, Elizabeth has been dreaming about the Elizabeth Dane. She searches the Internet for information about the hallmark symbol she saw earlier, but her computer malfunctions and the word “Dane” appears on the screen. She hears a knock at the front door, goes outside but finds nothing. Walking down to the beach, the fog begins moving in but Nick brings her back inside.

The next day, Nick’s Uncle Hank telephones him about the disappearance of his boat. Nick and Elizabeth sail out and find the vessel and the three corpses. Elizabeth goes into the hold and finds Spooner alive in a freezer. They return to the island where Mayor Tom Malone—Father Malone’s father—suspects Spooner of the murders. In the morgue, Sean’s corpse briefly rises up and accosts Elizabeth. At the library, Elizabeth researches the scales symbol seen on the watch’s hallmark. It represented an old trading colony north of Antonio Island, which was afflicted with leprosy. At the docks, Elizabeth finds the buried journal of Patrick Malone from 1871. She and Nick learn the story of the Elizabeth Dane and realize the founders built the town with the fortune they had stolen from the ship, but kept this secret from their families and the townsfolk.

The ghosts of the Elizabeth Dane seek revenge against Antonio Island’s residents for the past crimes of its founding fathers. After killing Dan at the weather station, they pursue Stevie’s son Andy and his Aunt Connie at home. Connie is killed but Nick and Elizabeth rescue Andy. In her car, Stevie is also attacked but escapes. They all make their way to the Town Hall where the founders’ murderous secrets are exposed. The spirits kill Hank Castle, Kathy Williams and the Malones. The ghost of Blake then seeks Elizabeth. Despite being a descendant of David Williams, Elizabeth is the reincarnation of Blake’s wife and was one of her ancestor’s victims; hence, her mysterious dreams about the Elizabeth Dane. Blake kisses Elizabeth and she transforms into a spirit and disappears as Nick watches helplessly. The next day, the survivors try to cope with their traumatic experiences and the truth about their ancestors. As Stevie reflects on the night’s events with her listeners, Nick throws Patrick Malone’s journal into the sea

REVIEW:

My thoughts on remakes are well known at this point, so I won’t bother to rehash them. However, when it comes to The Fog, I feel that I need to say my piece about remakes. Simply put, if you must remake something, then don’t rehash the story. Give the audience something new with hints of the original. Ugh! Happy Halloween everyone, btw!

What is this about?

Selma Blair, Tom Welling and Maggie Grace star in this creepy thriller about an island town off the coast of Oregon that’s forced to contend with some unwelcome visitors from its past: the spirits of lepers and sailors aboard a ship that the hamlet’s forefathers had steered astray on purpose. Those aboard the doomed vessel all wound up lost in the fog forever. Now, they’re back from the mist, eager to exact revenge on the descendants of their murderers.

What did I like?

Fear of the unknown. Horror movies made in the last 10-15 years just haven’t been scary. Maybe it is a shift in society, maybe it is unoriginal concepts, perhaps it is bad writing, but these things are just a dime a dozen now. Honestly, this film didn’t scare me, either, but there was that sense of terror when the fog randomly killed the people on the boat. Not knowing anything about made it almost scary, which is why the original works so well. Of course, all that goodwill was ruined when they decided to give the fog a life and back story.

Mama Blair. Selma Blair usually plays weird characters, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen her as a mother. Well, you can sort of say she was a mother figure in the Hellboy films, but that’s only because she was the only female. I wouldn’t go that far, though. A couple of thing on Blair. First, I don’t know what it is, but she has never looked better. Maybe it was the scene where she’s in a t-shirt and panties, or maybe it was the hair, but she was almost hot! Second, her character was actually the most likable and relatable, and yet she had very little time on screen. I felt that they developed her a little and then backed off to focus on Tom Welling and Maggie Grace, who I’ll get to shortly.

Twist. Not spoiling anything, but the twist at the end, if you can call it that, leaves the audience scratching their head wondering should they be happy or sad about what just happened. Again, this goes back to not fleshing out the characters. We don’t know what to think about the events that just transpired. That being said, other than a slight foreshadowing near the beginning, we never saw it coming, so that was a plus.

What didn’t I like?

Comic relief. Oregon is not know for being the most racially diverse state. As a result, we get one African-American actor and he’s the comic relief. Truthfully, I could care less about the guy’s race, but if you’re cast to be funny, then for goodness sakes be funny. DeRay Davis failed at his job because I found him to be more of a sidekick than comic relief. His scenes, except when he was partying with the bikini babes, gave me the impression that he has some heroic tendencies bottled up. Maybe there was a version of the script where he saved the day, I don’t know. What I do know is that at least the black man didn’t die first!

More than just pretty faces. More and more today, I see films focusing on casting pretty people rather than competent actors and nine times out of ten, they can’t act! Megan Fox, anyone? Tom Welling and Maggie Grace were obviously cast for their looks, because they are not the best actors and have little to no chemistry. I will say that Welling was a hot commodity because Smallville was in its prime, and that is why he was cast. Maggie Grace is just a beautiful actress. In her defense, though, I have seen her do much better work, so maybe this was a case of needed a better leading man, or she just hadn’t matured as an actress. At any rate, their wooden, unemotional acting takes the audience out and makes you ponder what the point of even caring about these two is.

Graveyard shadows. There is a scene in The Matrix: Reloaded where Keanu Reeves is fighting an army of Agent Smiths. It is some of the worst CG you’ve ever seen, because it is obvious CG. Someone didn’t render it well enough to make it look as real as the actual people and it slipped through the cracks. This may be a product of the limited technology of the time, but everytime I see it and compare it to the highway scene earlier in the film, I wonder. This brings me to this film. In the last scene, we are in a graveyard, surrounded by ghosts. Obviously, the ghosts are CG, but they look like cardboard cutouts used to scare people into thinking there are more than just a couple of them there. I guess the proper term would be shadow, since they are grey and translucent, but still, with the effects that were used with the fires and the fog, surely they could have made the ghosts, which are one of the last things we see in this film, better looking!

From my understanding, The Fog did nothing to improve on the original. Big surprise, right? This is another pointless remake! I don’t really have much to say about it on the positive side, I’m afraid. Maybe when I watch the original, my tune will change, but until then, I do not recommend this film. It just isn’t worth it.

2 out of 5 stars

21 Jump Street

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) are former classmates who meet again at police academy. Schmidt, obsessed with Eminem was a chubby nerd while Jenko was a underachieving jock. They end up becoming best friends at the academy as they help with each others’ weaknesses, with Schmidt helping Jenko study and Jenko motivating Schmidt through physical activity. They graduate together as partners, but are assigned to park patrol. They catch a break when they spot a group of One Percenters and arrest their leader Domingo (DeRay Davis). However, the department is forced to release him as Jenko forgot the wording of the Miranda rights. The two are reassigned to a revived specialty division on 21 Jump Street.

They are introduced to Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), who explains the division specializes in infiltrating high schools and that they were chosen because of their youthful appearances. Schmidt and Jenko are assigned to stop a new synthetic drug from spreading to other schools by finding the supplier. They go undercover as brothers, living at Schmidt’s parents’ house. Jenko accidentally switches their identities and they get each others’ classes. They learn the lead dealer of the drug is the popular Eric (Dave Franco), but he is not the supplier.

They go to the dealing room where Eric forces them to take the drug there and not wait. They attempt to regurgitate it but are unsuccessful, and they undergo the phases of the drug while talking to their P.E. teacher, Mr. Walters (Rob Riggle), and also while running track and during band practice. The mistakes that happen at the track meet cause Eric to take a liking to Schmidt.

Schmidt manages to fit in with the popular kids and takes a romantic interest in Eric’s friend Molly (Brie Larson), while Jenko becomes friends with the nerds in his AP Chemistry class while his teacher Ms. Griggs (Ellie Kemper) takes a sexual interest in him. Jenko discovers that his new friends secretly tap into other people’s cell phones to listen into their conversations. Schmidt decides to throw a party at his house to gain Eric’s complete trust and Jenko takes the opportunity to tap into Eric’s phone. Despite Captain Dickson ordering them not to serve alcohol and drugs to minors, they nevertheless buy alcohol and steal confiscated marijuana. When Eric arrives with Molly and his other friends, Jenko steals Eric’s phone for his friends to tap into while Schmidt fights off a rival of Eric’s.

Schmidt pretends to sell the drug for Eric but is actually giving it to Captain Dickson to be confiscated. While at Eric’s house, Schmidt asks Molly out to prom while Jenko listens through Eric’s phone. He also insults Jenko to Eric with Jenko listening. Schmidt and Jenko learn that Eric is making a deal soon. When Jenko spots Eric leaving school, he takes Schmidt to follow him. They see that Eric is dealing with the One Percenters and they follow them, but are forced to run away when Domingo spots them. Back at school, Jenko accuses Schmidt of his earlier insults, possibly ruining the case, and getting in too deep, but Schmidt brushes him off. Jenko and Schmidt get into a fight that results in them getting expelled and fired from Jump Street.

Later that night, both are confronted by Eric and his friends, who want to bring them on as security after hearing about what happened with the One Percenters. He tells them about a deal happening during prom where they get to meet the supplier. At prom, they are surprised to see that the supplier is Mr. Walters. The One Percenters arrive for the deal, and Domingo recognizes Schmidt and Jenko as police officers, and tells two of his men to kill them. However, the two men reveal themselves as DEA Agents Tom Hanson (Johnny Depp) and Doug Penhall (Peter DeLuise), who were a part of the Jump Street program when it began. Hanson casually talks to Schmidt and Jenko during the standoff which gives Domingo the opportunity to kill Hanson and Penhall. A gunfight ensues among Schmidt and Jenko, Mr. Walters, and the One Percenters. Mr. Walters and Eric escape in a limo with Molly as a hostage, with the One Percenters in pursuit of them in another limo. Schmidt and Jenko pursue all of them in another limo where Jenko creates a homemade chemical bomb from his knowledge in AP Chemistry to kill the One Percenters. They then confront Mr. Walters, who shoots at Schmidt. Jenko jumps in front of Schmidt, saving his life and getting shot in the arm and his chest, which was protected by a bullet-proof vest, in the process. In response, Schmidt shoots Mr. Walters in the groin, severing his penis. The duo successfully arrest him and Eric and make amends with each other. Schmidt makes amends with Molly and the two share a kiss. They are rehired into Jump Street where Dickson gives them a new assignment in a college setting, to Schmidt’s excitement but to Jenko’s dismay.

REVIEW:

The original 21 Jump Street was a crime drama aimed more towards teens. At the time it was on, I either didn’t have Fox, or just didn’t care about it. Talking to many of my friends from the time it was on, the feeling is mutual. With that said, the show did gain a cult following and introduced to the acting skills of a young man named Johnny Depp.

What is this about?

In high school, Schmidt was one of the biggest nerds, while Jenko was the #1 jock who picked on everyone. A few years later, they find themselves enrolling in the police academy together, becoming best friends and, with each other’s help, passing the tests and becoming partners. Their first assignment is bike patrol in the park. On a routine patrol, they see some One Percenter’s doing a drug deal and give chase. Most get away, but their leader is caught. It seems like this would be a good thing, but Jenko forgot to read him his Miranda Rights, so he had to be let go. A very unhappy commanding officer sends the two down to Jump Street, where they are to begin an undercover assignment that sends them to high school to uncover a new and potentially dangerous drug and who is supplying it. Will they find the drug and the supplier? Will they revert back to the dynamic they had when they were in high school the first time? Will the captain’s head explode from being such and angry black man?

What did I like?

Tone. The original series was a bit serious from what I hear. Some people may scoff at the change to a more comedic tone, but since this isn’t a verbatim remake of the original and we have different characters all over the place, it works for me.

Self-awareness. The film addresses many things in films that the audience is thinking. For instance, early on, it says something about the writers not having any ideas on their own, so they just remake old things. Later on, there is a scene during the freeway chase scene where a truck full of some kind of gas has a slight accident, but doesn’t explode, as we see in so many films.

Chemistry. Just like in real life, partners have to have chemistry. If you’re going to pair up an odd couple like Hill and Tatum, then they better work well together, and they do. Who would have thought that Channing Tatum had some comedy chops. I have to tip my hat to this guy, where many stars who can’t act are assuming people are just criticizing them or being haters, Tatum has taken the time to hone his craft and the improvements are showing.

What didn’t I like?

Franco II. This kid, Dave Franco, has rubbed me the wrong way ever since I first saw him on the last season on Scrubs. His older brother, James, has his moments, but at least he has the chops to back it up. This guy just grates on my everlasting nerves, and this time it can’t be blamed on the characters since he’s supposed to be likable.

Hot for teacher. The AP Chemistry teacher obviously has some kind of horny, lustful, attraction towards Jenko. It actually is a bit passive-agressive. All that is well and good, but here’s the thing. For all the emphasis they put on Schmidt and Molly, it seemed they could have done some exploring with these. I can just see some of the awkward situations, but I guess that would have been too much to ask.

Not the same. I give all the props in the world to Jonah Hill for losing all that weight for this role, but I have to question a couple of things. First is, was it really necessary and would it have worked better if he was the old size? Secondly, his character seems like a really, really smart guy, why the hell did he end up at the police academy and not in college?

The mixture of action, comedy, and sheer absurdity are what makes 21 Jump Street a surprise hit for the year. Throw in a cameo from the show’s stars who appear and tell the guys that they used to work Jump St. (always nice to have some continuity), and we have a winning formula. Now, I’m not saying this film is perfect…far from it, as a matter of fact, but it is entertaining and that is what movies are about, first and foremost. I highly recommend this.

4 out of 5 stars

Code Name: The Cleaner

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on April 21, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A janitor Jake Rogers (Cedric the Entertainer) wakes up next to a dead body with no memory of who he is and how he got there, but gradually comes to believes he is a secret undercover agent, and after fleeing the hotel and meeting his wife Diane (Nicollette Sheridan) and girlfriend (Lucy Liu) Jake goes on one crazy adventure to find out who he is.

REVIEW:

The spy genre has given us all kinds of fun little variation on the basic formula, but I don’t believe we’ve ever gotten one where a janitor believes he is a spy because of how he played a video game. That would be like me believing I could go around killing gods like in God of War or assassinating corrupt politicians and Templar agents as in Assassin’s Creed. Neither of which is going to happen, but the thought is intriguing enough to keep Code Name: The Cleaner out of the realm of films that totally suck.

What worked?

Cedric the Entertainer. This guy is one major talent. No secret this is not the best material, and yet he makes this film watchable thanks to his natural charm, charisma, and comedic timing. Granted, as an action star, I can’t buy him, but I think that’s part of the comedic irony of this flick.

Lucy Liu. I’m a little biased as she is on my top 10 current hot actress list, but she has only looked and acted better in the Charlie’s Angels movies (particularly the second one). Perhaps someone should write a spy flick with an Asian-American heroine. It would be better than some of the crap she’s been relegated to lately.

The plot. Let’s face it, almost every spy flick involves the bad guys trying to take over the world or steal some rare diamond, right? How many of them, though, try to do so through the use mind control to do so?

DeRay Davis and Niecy Nash. Both has small roles, but they were hilarious additions to the case that added something when they were on the screen. Admittedly, if they were on the screen on longer, they might have been annoying.

What didn’t work?

The plot. For all the kudos it gets for attempting something different, it ended up falling into the same stuff we’ve seen a billion times over.

Nicole Sheridan. If I’m not mistaken this is the chick that was fired from Desperate Housewives not too far back. It is not hard to see why. I hope that this is just a case of bad writing. For someone of her advanced years, she has a nice body, but that wasn’t enough to cover up her horrendous acting and the deplorable character she played.

Mark Dacascos. If this guy looks familiar you probably know him from his time on Dancing with the Stars, The Middleman (type in Sensei Ping on YouTube), but he is best known as the Chairman of Food Network’s Iron Chef. My issue with him is that he appears to be trying to play the straight villain, but comes off as a caricature of the typical evil mastermind we usually see in these types of flicks.

Humor. Yes, there are funny moments, but the whole film doesn’t quite seem to find its niche. It can’t decide whether it wasn’t to be a comedy, action comedy, or spoof. This is what hurts it more than anything. As cheesy as Undercover Brother and the Austin Powers movies are, they know that they are spoofs of the genre. This thing goes the way ofAgent Cody Banksand believes it is something it isn’t.

Code Name: The Cleaner is not a good movie, but it is tolerable for what it is. If you go into this thinking you’re getting something more than a goofy comedy with some action (and a super sexy Lucy Liu) in it, then you are going to be in for a world of disappointment. I can’t really recommend it, but check out BET and the other urban networks some Saturday afternoon or late night. Chances are it’ll pop up there.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars