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Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London
(March 6/04)

I think it's safe to say that Anthony Anderson has officially overstayed his welcome. Though he was never a particularly funny guy, he was a semi-effective comedic foil to serious action stars like Steven Seagal and Jet Li. But with each successive film, it's become increasingly clear that Anderson is an actor incapable of playing anything other than the boorish and obnoxious loud guy. In Agent Cody Banks 2, he's particularly guilty of this; presumably, since this is a film aimed towards children, he felt that he had to go even bigger than usual (I know, it hardly seems possible).

It'd be easy to lay all the blame for the sheer awfulness of the movie at Anderson's feet, but one must not overlook the many other elements contributing to the film's downfall (this is the perfect example of an unwarranted sequel, more unnecessary than Robocop 3). Frankie Muniz reprises his role as Agent Cody Banks, and the film sees him jetting over to London for a mission that's far too complicated to explain here. The gist of it involves a ruthless madman who's planning to take over the world using a device that allows him to control the movements of whomever he desires (it's a premise that makes the schemes of many James Bond villains look plausible).

Like the original, Agent Cody Banks 2 seems content to exist as a movie that holds appeal only for small kids; parents of said kids will no doubt be scratching their eyes out somewhere around the film's midpoint. The sad part is that the movie isn't entirely incompetent in terms of structure and direction, with filmmaker Kevin Allen's safe approach entirely expected from this type of flick. It's the beyond-lame storyline and over-the-top performances that eventually turn the movie into a horrifying ordeal. Even worse, the so-called comedy is played so broadly that it makes The Three Stooges look subtle, presumably in an effort to keep even babies engaged (I will admit, however, to chuckling at the sight of a dog playing the piano - an all-too-brief moment of oddness that represents the film's sole bright spot).

Muniz again proves that he's an actor better suited for the small screen, as he gives a performance that's entirely manufactured. As I noted in my review of the original, Muniz is incapable of expressing spontaneity while acting; his every move seems rehearsed and prepared, overanalyzed to a fault. Though he does possess a certain amount of charm, Muniz lack of ability makes it impossible to root for his character (to be fair, he was good in My Dog Skip). But even he's not as bad as Anderson, who manages to go the entire movie without giving an actual performance. Small children might be amused by Anderson's antics, though it's likely even they'll grow tired of his constant mugging.

Combine that with an action-packed (but not in a good way) climax that seems to go on for at least half of the film's running time, and you've got a recipe for an utterly disastrous film. I'll give the movie this, though - it's remarkably close to the level of the original, so if you liked that one...

out of

About the DVD: MGM Home Entertainment presents Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London with a flawless widescreen transfer, along with several bonus features. The disc includes an unusual yet strangely effective visual commentary track featuring Muniz, Anderson, and co-star Hannah Spearritt. The trio will occasionally freeze the action, walk onto screen, and talk about the film. Also included is a fluffy 9-minute featurette, three deleted scenes and three extended scenes, a photo gallery, bonus trailers, and an interactive quiz.
© David Nusair