2004, MGM. Directed by Kevin Allen. Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson, Hannah Spearritt, Daniel Roebuck, Keith Allen.
Decent Films Ratings
|?Kids & Up*|
Content advisory: Mild menace and occasional stylized violence.
By Steven D. Greydanus
In a surprise move, the annual Spring Frankie Muniz Spy Kids Rip-Off movie, now in its third year (following previous entries Big Fat Liar and Agent Cody Banks), has dropped its traditional morally problematic running theme.
In Big Fat Liar, Muniz lied through his teeth and took
a parentally unauthorized trip to Hollywood with gal-pal Amanda
Bynes in order to prove to his parents how trustworthy he was.
The original Agent Cody Banks gave him his very own
full-sized Bond Girl (Angie Harmon) to roll around on the floor
with and peek at with
But in Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London Harmon’s out of the picture, and Cody’s energies are focused on his mission, which involves infiltrating an international youth orchestra in London as a cover for combatting a world domination plot based on mind control technology. (Did you really need to know that?)
Unfortunately, while this sequel is the least morally problematic of Muniz’s three big-screen outings, it’s also far and away the lamest, lacking utterly its predecessors’ fitful humor and excitement. When the high point of your movie involves a Queen Elizabeth lookalike getting down to a youth-orchestra Euro-pop version of Edwin Starr’s "War," something has gone disastrously wrong.
Scene after scene falls embarrassingly flat. The mostly British supporting characters are all bizarrely eccentric, mincing, etc., to absolutely no effect. Anthony Anderson brings all the charm and class of his Kangaroo Jack character to the role of a CIA agent (yeah, right), providing a case study in how unfunny slapstick can be.
One scene, set in an elegant English manor dining hall, has Cody under the influence of mind-control technology, splattering a dozen or so peers with food from his plate while they look on, giggling embarrassedly. Nobody gets up and backs off, nobody slings any food back at him, nobody does anything. It’s just stupid.
The writing is so sloppy that at one point Cody explains that he faked playing the clarinet for three years in band (!) in order to be able to "meet girls." Have the writers forgotten that as of a year ago Cody lacked all ability to talk to girls? Even if he had joined the band to try to meet girls, one week of stuttering to every pretty girl in the band would have exhausted his social options and he would have quit in disgrace. (Anyway, wouldn’t actually learning the clarinet be easier than trying to fake it for three years…?)
It took James Bond decades to get as tired as Cody Banks’s second film. Even Austin Powers flicks make me care more about the story than this. I can’t think of the last film that made me feel so embarrassed for the actors involved, or that felt like such a complete waste of my time.