Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London
With the potential of a lucrative franchise on their hands, MGM wasted no time getting Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (2004) into theaters, and to their own detriment the hurried effort shows in this uninspired follow-up. While the youngest of fans still can play out their fantasies on screen, the simple, formulaic approach to the sequel has squandered the series' hopes. Awkward geek no more, Cody Banks (a rapidly aging Frankie Muniz) is somewhat of a star in his return to Camp Molly, a covert training center for tots. Obviously the best agent of the bunch, when camp leader Diaz (Keith Allen) goes rogue with mind-control technology, he's the logical choice for traveling to London, where world leaders have gathered for a summit. For his cover, Banks is sent to take part in an International Youth Orchestra, even though he doesn't know how to play the clarinet. Anthony Anderson replaces Angie Harmon as his handler, Derek, but if Banks is sorry for the exchange he doesn't show it. Also in the orchestra is Emily (Hannah Spearritt), who happens to be a Scotland Yard agent, since every nation seems to have adopted the U.S. policy of training teenagers as covert operatives. Banks is given the standard assortment of regulation spy gadgets, and with Derek and Emily's help he races to save the world while making band practice on time. It would seem that MGM felt the need to get this sequel out the door while Muniz could still sufficiently pass as a teenager. The feeling of a rushed production is palpable, and while Muniz does well for himself, the bland template used in crafting the screenplay makes for some truly awful moments. Without the angst of girl-troubles, and losing the wonder of "fourteen-year-old as CIA agent" in favor of talented "sixteen-year-old as CIA agent," what's left is even more vapid than the prior effort. Anderson would seem to be there to keep the adults in the audience entertained, but (with one exception) his jokes are kept out of the realm of subversive humor. MGM presents Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London in an anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with a pan-and-scan option on the flip-side, and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The Special Edition release contains several supplements, including an "Agent Mode" interactive quiz, in which the film stops and Muniz or Anderson pops up to ask a question relevant to the scene they are interrupting. The "Spy on the Set" commentary is an annoying new development, in which the standard vocal commentary is replaced by a pause in the film during which Muniz, Anderson, and Spearritt appear on screen to discuss something that may have just happened, or may happen when the film begins again. One can only hope this terribly grating idea doesn't become a trend. "Back in Action" documents the making of the film, and several deleted and extended scenes round out the bonus content. Keep-case.