Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London

Posted on March 6, 2004 at 2:29 pm

Frankie Muniz returns as junior secret agent Cody Banks in a moderately cute action comedy that will satisfy its target audience of 8-14-year-olds.

Cody is the superstar of the secret CIA training camp for spy kids. He helps the camp director escape in what he thinks is a simulation exercise. But it turns out that it was not a simulation. Diaz has escaped with the CIA’s secret mind control software. Cody has to go undercover as a member of an international classical music group for teens to track him down before he can gain control of the world’s leaders at a meeting in London.

Cody is assigned to work with Derek (Anthony Anderson). They are not very impressed with each other at first. Cody says, “I don’t need a handler,” and Derek responds, “And I don’t need a white Mini Me, but here we are.”

Cody gets an assortment of cool new gadgets, including a retainer wired to permit him to eavesdrop on the bad guys and a package of exploding Mentos mints. And he gets some unexpected help from Derek, who turns out to have some talent as a spy (and a chef), and from a pretty British undercover operative (Hannah Spearritt) as well. In addition to using the gadgets and tracking the bad guys, Cody has to pretend to play the clarinet. When he gets spotted by Diaz, he is used as the guinea pig for the mind control device implanted in his tooth.

The movie does not have anywhere near the imagination and wit of the Spy Kids movies, but it is a pleasantly diverting adventure for a too-often-neglected segment of the audience. Muniz has an appealing screen presence, and if Anthony Anderson is coasting a little bit with his usual shtick, the audience in the screening I attended did not seem to mind one bit. The action sequences are only fair, but there is one scene with a lot of exploding water containers that is a lot of fun.

Parents should know that the movie includes some mild schoolyard language (“screwed up,” “hell,” “haul some ass,” “sucks”) and some potty humor. There is action violence and peril, including a lot of punching and kicking and some explosions, and someone gets hit in the crotch, but no one really gets hurt. A character says that she is “pickled” from cold medicine. A character kisses a girl on the cheek. Some audience members may be uncomfortable when a bad guy tells his wife he is leaving her (she is not upset). A strength of the movie is the way that male and female characters of different races and cultures work together.

Families who see this movie should talk about what Diaz said to Cody: “Trust equals death. Trust nobody — including me.” Why did he say that? How do we know who deserves our trust? What do Cody and Derek learn from one another? Families might like to look at the CIA website, which explains how students can best prepare themselves for a career in the CIA: “Our best advice to you is to do your very best and strive for good grades. Fluency in a foreign language is a good addition. Above all, understand that your choices and behaviors now are a reflection of your personal integrity, character and patriotism.” And they might like to listen to the music played by Cody’s friends, including the Edwin Starr song “War (What is it Good For)” (later covered by Bruce Springsteen) and the William Tell Overture (better known as the theme song to The Lone Ranger). This website explains something about the G8 (formerly the G7), whose meeting in London is a key element of this movie.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original Agent Cody Banks and the first two of the Spy Kids movies. They will also enjoy Camp Nowhere, about some kids who fool their parents into thinking they are summer camps with intensive programs for self-improvement when they are really just having fun.

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