CODE NAME: THE CLEANERPG-13
The believability bar is low for a fish-out-of-water farce about a funny fat guy with amnesia who finds himself in the middle of espionage intrigue, and variously pursued and protected by a femme-fatale blonde and a gorgeous Asian girl-next-door. Code Name: The Cleaner, the latest effort by the singularly untalented and inexplicably working Les Mayfield, not only drops that bar, but kicks it away by failing to amuse.
Cedric the Entertainer--who helped produce and per the press notes shaped this film originally written by African-Canadian neophyte Robert Adetuyi and co-credited to him and George Gallo (Midnight Run)--overplays the role of Jake Rodgers, who wakes up in a Seattle hotel room with no memory, no ID, a dead FBI agent next to him, and a quarter-million bucks in a briefcase. In shock and with a head wound, he grabs the dough on instinct and tries to slip out, but a hotel worker sees what happened and calls the cops. They arrive just as Jake gets spirited away by a bouncingly bosomy blonde named Diane (Nicolette Sheridan), who claims to be his wife and takes him away to their mansion.
There, after some unfunny reg'lar-guy, messin'-with-the butler, tries-to-play-golf stuff, Jake overhears Diane and a doctor conspiring to shoot him up with that hoary trope, "truth serum," and he bolts. Clues take him to videogame maker D.A.R.T. Technology and to a diner across the street, where luscious Lucy Liu plays a waitress who berates her "boo" for not calling. There's a tradition in comedy of middle-class, childish fat guys with supermodel/pin-up wives and girlfriends, but even this has a limit, and the idea of these two as a couple--who supposedly have been together over a year and haven't, as they put it, "hit it"--skates right into science-fiction.
Intrigue plays out without suspense or logic. Jake, who's being pursued by D.A.R.T. bad guys over a computer-chip prototype that could let America's enemies create ostensibly unbreakable codes, somehow escapes the head of D.A.R.T. security when she inexplicably leaves keys in an expensive car. How clever. For some reason, the fugitive Jake's D.A.R.T. key card still works, and despite a manhunt by company goons, local cops and the FBI, the only security checkpoint is a parking-garage attendant!
Beyond such amateurishly ill-constructed plot points, what should be a fast-moving film is slow and repetitious. And both Mayfield's direction and editor Michael Matzdorff's cuts are just perplexing. As Jake escapes following the one funny set-piece--with him caught onstage unable to escape a Dutch dance troupe, choreographed as well as any Lucille Ball business--the camera zooms in portentously on a discarded wooden shoe. Annnnnd--that's it. The shoe never turns up again, and the close-up leaves you shaking your head.
There's more, but not to dwell completely on the negative, comedian DeRay Davis does a great fast-talking bit as a janitor/rapper-wannabe who wants bad guy Shaw (the dependably dimensional Callum Keith Rennie) to shoot him for street cred. Niecy Nash gives a vibrant spin in two scenes as "the sassy black woman" (and in the end-credit outtakes has the movie's funniest line). And the 43-year-old Sheridan, in a lingerie scene with practically nonexistent thong panties, will melt your teeth. Otherwise, this comedic Bourne Identity is more Bored Identity.