July 22, 2004 -- “Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London,” is one of the worst films of the year. The first Cody Banks film was an enjoyable film. This one is a groaner, loaded with stick figure characters constructed of insulting stereotypes.
The story lacks humor, heart and wit. The jokes fall flat most of the time. The sight gags are pathetic. Sometimes I got the feeling that we were supposed to laugh at the way people look or sound, without any additional attempts at humor. For instance, a young Indian girl in the film was apparently supposed to be funny because of her strong accent, only it was not funny, just a little odd. Then there are the two mad scientist characters, one supplies high-tech spy equipment to Cody, the other operates high-tech equipment for the bad guys. Both of these guys were supposed bo be funny, but they were, instead, pathetic drooling caricatures. In another scene, a character representing Queen Elizabeth is shown shaking her booty to a rock and roll song. I'm no fan of royalty, but even I thought that scene was both unfunny and insulting.
All of these failings can be traced back to the script. There is nothing here for the actors to work with in terms of character. Without good characters, you can't have effective comedy, because it is the reaction of the characters to a comic situation that is funny, not just their appearance. What we end up with in this film are a lot of characters that look and sound funny, but there is no real personality to go with their cartoonish images. In other words, what we have here is the appearance of comedy without comedic substance. I saw this film with a bunch of children and parents at a kid's show matinee recently and there were long stretches of the film with an absence of laughter in the theater, even though some of the kids were jittering off their seats because of the effects of drinking huge amounts of sugar-laden caffeinated drinks.
The star of the show, Frankie Muniz, who plays teen spy Cody Banks, who was so animated and enthusiastic in the first film, seems to be much older, tired and goes listlessly through the motions of acting in this film. The main villain, Diaz (Keith Allen of “De-Lovely”) brings some energy to his role, as does Anthony Anderson of “Kangaroo Jack,” who plays Cody Banks' CIA handler, Derek. Other than these two, who seem to be having a little fun with their roles, the rest of the actors in this film appear either bored or frantic because they know they are trapped in a nightmare production. There is a kind of desperation in the faces of some of the actors, including those playing the drooling, crazed mad scientist roles. They seem to be trying to create comedy with frantic energy alone. It doesn't work, but they tried.
Director Kevin Allen (“The Skulls”), seems to be making worse movies as his career spirals downward, but I think most of the problems with this film stem from Don Rhymer's screenplay. If this movie was a TV sitcom, it would never have made it to production. No sponsor in his right mind would buy it. This movie got a green light only because it is a sequel to a successful film. Unfortunately, everything that was good about the first film was somehow filtered out in the sequel. In a year which there has been some good sequels, “Spider-Man 2” and “Shrek 2” for instance. This particular sequel is more like your standard drab, unimaginative sequel, only worse. It is terrible. This is the kind of film which gives Hollywood a bad name. It rates an F.
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