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Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (PG)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Agent Mode (interactive quiz). Spy On The Set (video commentary with Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson and Hannah Spearritt); 'Back In Action' making of featurette; Deleted and extended scenes; Easter egg; Behind the scenes photo gallery; Theatrical trailer.

WHAT is it about Hollywood that it cannot resist the temptation to portray the English as either sneering villains, or oddball eccentrics, in the stiff upper-lip mode?

Whatever their reason for travelling, American protagonists generally tend to arrive in our capital with a pre-conceived idea that all Brits are posh twits, or worse, affable and stupid.

The cast of Friends did it, last year’s What A Girl Wants did it, and now Agent Cody Banks does it - to his subsequent detriment.

It only seems five minutes ago that we were waving farewell to the last Banks outing, yet before audiences had even got the chance to catch their breath, the producers spied a franchise in the making and rushed a sequel into production before the original was released.

Hence, fresh from his last success, as a High School student, CIA operative, Cody Banks (TV’s Frankie Muniz), now poses as a music student, at an elite British boarding school, in order to retrieve a top-secret mind-control device that has been stolen from the US government, by his own instructor (Keith Allen).

Once in London, Banks becomes paired with an out-of-favour handler (Anthony Anderson), who helps him to enrol in the boarding school run by Anna Chancellor’s eccentric music lover, in the hope that her husband may hold the key to the retrieval of the device.

Helping him along the way is Hannah Spearritt’s fellow musician student, who may also possess her own secrets.

Whereas the original Cody Banks provided its fair share of thrills for the pre-teen market, thanks to some enjoyable set pieces, the follow-up falls flat from the outset, amid a wave of predictable cliches and tired jokes.

Muniz’s junior James Bond spends half the movie looking as incredulous as the rest of us, at some of the things he is asked to perform, failing to build on the appeal which helped to make the original such a favourite among the younger generation.

Kevin Allen’s direction also seems pre-occupied with the gadgets, rather than any real coherence, and his treatment of the adults is excruciatingly painful.

Anderson, especially, seems content to churn out his usual ‘comedy black-man-with-attitude’ persona, while none of the British cast are allowed to rise above the bog-standard, and frankly insulting, stereotypes that have been penned for them.

Spearritt, of former S Club 7 fame, does her best, with limited material, but looks awkward whenever she is called upon to act, while even the set pieces feel a little laboured.

There are fleeting moments of ingenuity, such as a comedy sequence involving lobsters, which may appeal to really young children, but the humour is so dumb, and the jokes so obvious, that this smacks of being a sequel with its eye on the cash register, rather than any real entertainment value.

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