'Code Name' another poor choice for Cedric the Entertainer
By Roger Moore
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
By Roger Moore
Cedric the Entertainer is never going to be Cedric the Leading Man.
The sooner he and Hollywood figure this out, the sooner he'll stop inflicting embarrassments like "The Honeymooners" or "Johnson Family Vacation" on us.
At least his latest, "Code Name: The Cleaner," is more ambitious than his earlier leads. He can't lift this story of an amnesiac who is either a secret agent or a janitor, because his clueless character is the only one who doesn't realize how absurd one of those possibilities is. But even a "Memento for Dummies" is a better idea than reviving "The Honeymooners."
Guy wakes up in a strange hotel with a bloody ear, a headache, a briefcase full of cash, and a dead FBI agent in bed with him.
Ouch. A deadly blonde (Nicollette Sheridan of TV's "Desperate You-Know-What") shows up and tries to seduce him into revealing the whereabouts of a missing microchip. An ill-tempered waitress (Lucy Liu, funny in a supporting part) claims to be his "Boo" (girlfriend). Cops and killers are trying to catch him.
And Jake keeps having these flashbacks, to shootouts, commando operations, to the fight in the hotel room where he woke up with a dead man.
Cedric makes the most of a couple of Cedric-friendly bits — his early confusion over his marital status — "I'm married. To a white woman? Does my momma know about you?" There's a cute scene that has him don the costume of a traveling Dutch clogger in a clog-dancing troupe and take the stage as a big plump Dutch Boy, clattering away with the blondes in wooden shoes.
Mostly, though, he mugs. He talks to himself, because the script has long stretches where he's alone, trying to decode his life. Too much banter, too many one-liners, feel over-rehearsed.
Who among us could turn down the big paycheck that comes with a starring role? But Cedric, if he still wants to be called The Entertainer, needs to look at his filmography, see what has worked and what hasn't, and adjust to another label.
He's Cedric the Supporting Player.