Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London unleashes itself upon us like an unchained Cerberus, lasciviously devouring all basic notions of intelligence and sophistication in its destructive, rampaging wake. This is a cannibal Holocaust in the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing guise of children’s entertainment—the John Wayne Gacy of films. My Slant colleague Ed Gonzalez slapped his own 4-F on the first Agent Cody Banks, labeling it “kiddie porn.” We might best extend that metaphor to this even more officious sequel: Call it “kiddie porn-squared.” The discomforting double entendres fly fast and furious from frame one. Teenage super spy Cody (Frankie Muniz) attends a C.I.A. training facility named Kamp Woody (can’t wait for Susan Sontag’s break-it-down essay “Notes on Kamp”) where the camera—much like the film’s fey, slick-haired villains—leers and lingers over young male flesh. Not to be undone, the filmmakers become equal-opportunity sex offenders once the locale switches to London, taking in, with oblivious, lustful zeal, the fishnet stockings and va-va-va-voom!-ness of Cody’s underage female compatriot Emily (Hannah Spearritt). Has there ever been a movie so unaware of its own pedophilic tendencies? A rotten-toothed character named Jerksalot adds fuel to that rhetorical fire, to say nothing of the constant references to Cody’s “instrument” (a phallic clarinet, natch). But the ignorance doesn’t stop there. As Cody’s sidekick Derek, black actor Anthony Anderson extends cinema’s dubious tradition of minstrelsy, slow-wittedly tripping and traipsing his way into the Stepin Fetchit hall of fame. No surprise then that the filmmakers handily tiptoe around obvious race and class issues. One out of many: When juxtaposing Cody’s elegant sleeping quarters with Derek’s second-rate servant’s accommodations the compositions pack no satirical punch, so the whole sequence becomes little more than a rancid sight gag. Even more offensive is the multi-culti rogue’s gallery of music students who befriend Cody and are integral parts of the film’s forgettable spy-plot pastiche. The students are obvious skin-tonal stabs at political correctness, though this liberal knee-jerk is easily negated by the characters’ depthless verbal utterances—all accent-appropriate one-liners that emphasize a racist alien-ness. That these same kids are then exploited as peacenik mouthpieces in a climactic musical sequence featuring a bust-a-move Queen Mother (a joke that, admittedly, never gets old) is reason enough to ring up John Walsh and register this second Agent Cody Banks with the cinematic equivalent of the Megan’s Law database.
MGM Home Entertainment is doing some really solid work lately, evidenced on both their Barbershop 2 and Agent Cody Banks 2 discs. This is a solid transfer all-around-some haloing is noticeable in spots, but detail is sharp and colors are beautifully saturated. There's also very little in the way of edge enhancement, something noticeable on the first Agent Cody Banks DVD. In the audio department, this disc similarly delivers in ways the first one's smaller budget could not. Every buzzing school bell, cellphone, and spy gadget truly resonates across the surround track's soundstage.
The "visual cast commentary" included here allows Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson, and Hannah Spearriit to disturbingly pop into frame randomly throughout the film and share their thoughts on specific scenes. On the bright side: Unlike the Barbershop 2's PIP-style interruptions, Agent Cody Banks 2 is never interrupted-the film pauses and doesn't resume until the commentators are through yapping. Rounding out the supplemental materials is a disturbing "Back in Action" featurette that has director Kevin Allen watching poetic on the politics of Muniz and Anderson's characters (apparently they represent "different slices of America"), an "Agent Mode" interactive quiz you can play during the film, three deleted scenes, three extended sequences, two photo galleries, and trailers for Agent Cody Banks parts one and two, Good Boy!, Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids, some TV show called "Hi5," Stellaluna, The Legend of Johnny Lingo, Hamilton Mattress, Crocodile Hunter, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Muppet Christmas Movie.
Anyone looking for a "woodwind buddy"? Look no further than Agent Cody Banks, who can’t play the clarinet but is only to happy to learn.