I believe I am not the only one for whom the novelty of movies about teenage spies has worn off, though maybe that is more a hope than a belief. Even the last “Spy Kids” movie was mediocre; that franchise’s rip-offs, like “Catch That Kid” and “Agent Cody Banks” were bad to begin with.
“Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London” is even worse. If there was any charm in its predecessor, I have forgotten it, and so have the filmmakers. It was made by people who didn’t care about making a good movie; they just needed to make a FAST movie, one that could be done while the genre still had an ounce of life left in it.
I’m talking about details in the film, mostly, but enough of them to support my position that no one involved was even trying. There’s a retina-scan device to access a top-secret facility, but it’s on a toilet-stall door, which means you could just crawl underneath it rather than have your identity checked. Someone complains that his wife has parked too close to the lake, but later, when they return to the van to drive home, they are parked somewhere else altogether. A bad guy hurriedly sneaks around a cabin in search of a target, but he stands in one place long enough for a child hidden beneath a bed to tie his shoelaces together. Stupid stuff like that, see?
A more pivotal problem is that Cody Banks himself (played by Frankie Muniz) is humorless, uptight and a little dense. He’s not likable, either as a spy or as a regular kid. He neither makes nor appreciates jokes, and he acts as though perpetually constipated.
I note one scene where he is attempting to pass himself off as a musical prodigy and someone asks him the name of his favorite composer. Rather than name an actual musician, he decides he has to make one up, and goes with “Heinz,” since that’s the brand of ketchup sitting on the table. (I suppose most viewers of this film won’t recall the episode of “The Brady Bunch” when Jan made up a boyfriend named George Glass for a similarly stupid reason.) Why not say Beethoven or Mozart? If the asker presses for his favorite piece by that composer, and if he can’t think of one, he could easily deflect with something non-committal like, “Oh, it’s hard to choose a favorite, but I always preferred his earlier work.” See? I haven’t even been trained, and I’m already a better spy than this idiot.
The plot involves a mind-control device (though it’s really more of a body-control device; it involves a joystick) that has fallen into the wrong hands. Cody goes undercover in a London-based international youth symphony because its benefactor is believed to be one of the device’s thieves. His handler, demoted CIA agent Derek (Anthony Anderson), is along posing as a chef, even though he can’t cook anything. (Again, I wonder how much debriefing the CIA is doing before throwing its agents willy-nilly into their missions.)
There is the obligatory fart reference — I’ve stopped calling them “jokes” when all that happens is, somebody farts, which can hardly be considered a “joke” — and the obligatory pubescent romance and a lot of other obligatory things. The whole film is obligatory, of course. It’s a typical smash-and-grab sequel, produced solely to milk a fad before it dies, created without any imagination or skill. It is credited to three writers, which stuns me, because I know plenty of writers who could have written something this bad single-handedly.
D (1 hr., 39 min.; )