Cedric the Entertainer gets hit on the head and loses his memory in Code Name: The Cleaner, a condition likely to be desired by anyone foolish enough to sit through Les Mayfield’s comedy, in which amnesia results not in confusion or fear but rather lifeless fish-out-of-water cross-cultural humor. Awakening to find himself lying next to a dead F.B.I. agent and a briefcase full of cash, blank-slate Jake (Cedric) becomes embroiled in espionage revolving around a computer chip that various factions covet, though the scenarios in which he invariably finds himself are less Bourne Identity-thrilling than urban comedy-dismal. Initially led to believe that he’s a rich super-spy who lives in a mansion with his white seductress wife Diane (Nicollette Sheridan, proving that her rear-end is in better shape than her plastic face), Jake acts like an African-American version of Jed Clampett. Then, upon discovering that he’s really just a janitor (or is he?), Jake acts like an endearing man-child buffoon around his sassy waitress girlfriend Gina (Lucy Liu). Given that it was directed by Mayfield, he of Blue Streak and The Man fame, criticizing this mess for being scattershot and unfunny is akin to saying the sky is blue. Yet what’s most depressing about Code Name: The Cleaner is how wholesale sloppy it is, progressing with such a basic lack of coherence and rationality that—padded out with Cedric’s excruciating mock-karate flailing and one astoundingly unrestrained, improvised DeRay Davis rant (as Jake’s co-worker Ronnie) about how getting shot in the ass will help further his career as the janitorial industry’s Tupac—the film feels like its foundation isn’t a finished script but merely a trashy outline for a threadbare idea.
- Les Mayfield
- Robert Adetuyi, George Gallo
- Cedric the Entertainer, Lucy Liu, Nicollette Sheridan, Mark Dacascos, Callum Keith Rennie, Niecy Nash, DeRay Davis, Will Patton
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