After botching a manhunt on the grounds of his summer camp/CIA training
facility, agent Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz) is being sent to London to help
thwart a madman (Keith Allen) from taking over the world with a mind control
device. Posing as an elite clarinet player in a band made up of the world's
finest teenage musicians, Banks peaks the interest of a curious flute player
named Emily (Hannah Spearritt), and is aided by fellow agent, Derek (the
excruciating Anthony Anderson), as he hunts for clues around London.
This time last year, I found "Agent Cody Banks" to be a sly little tween
diversion. It played up the "James Bond Jr." angle nicely and efficiently, as
well as being a generally lively and enjoyable adventure. Exactly one year later,
the quickie sequel "Destination London" (IMDb listing) arrives in theaters and everything that
made "Banks" such an unexpected treat is gone. Everything. Including, most
conspicuously, female co-stars Angie Harmon and tween superstar Hilary Duff.
Their replacement? Laugh terminator Anthony Anderson ("Kangaroo Jack," "My
Baby's Daddy," "See Spot Run"), who brings his bottomless bag of "Compton"
comedy with him. Who wins in that swap? I'm thinking Anderson's agent, because
the audience certainly doesn't get any laughs in the transaction.
"Destination London" is a hastily and poorly written adventure that steals spy
action set pieces from other films, and has zero idea what passes for comedy.
Directed by Englishman Kevin Allen ("The Big Tease"), the picture is heavily
reliant on laziness to get itself in and out of scenes. Can't find a joke? Let
Anderson improv endlessly until something resembling a punchline happens. Want
to please the American audience? Stereotype the crap out of all the European
characters, and throw in an extended fart and urine sequence just to make sure
the lowest common denominator is satisfied. "London" is a family film, so it can
get away with being a certain level of stupid, but the original "Banks" took
great pride in being, ya know, just a little bit of fun. "London" is a drag from
start to finish; clearly the hurried end product of MGM wanting to strike while
the iron was lukewarm (the original stalled at 47 million at the box office) on
this kiddie franchise.
And even in crazy-fantasy-Hollywood-suspend-disbelief-land, why in the heck
would the clearly identifiable bad guy hunt down Banks through the busy commuter
streets of London with a rocket launcher? Outside of the obvious explanation
that things going boom help distract from the absence of screenwriting, wouldn't
a gun and a silencer do the trick a little better? But that's what I get for
looking deeply into a Frankie Muniz movie.
If they decide to go ahead with another "Cody Banks" adventure, I can only hope
the producers take their time before rushing into another nonsensical story and
appalling supporting talent. Clearly, churning out a sequel in less than a
year's time doesn't do the audience any favors.
Filmfodder Grade: D-