Secret Agent Cody Banks was a clever take off on the James Bond series. In that movie a young super-spy had all the abilities of a typical movie secret agent except one: he couldn't talk to girls. The awkward teenager fighting an international conspiracy was both funny and action filled. Will the sequel be able to recapture the charm and humor of the first? It doesn't even come close.
In this film, Cody's (Frankie Muniz) CIA instructor from summer camp has fled the country with some stolen some mind control software. He is trying to have it developed into a usable weapon for world domination. The CIA tags Cody to bring in his old mentor and sends him to London where he has been enrolled in a summer music academy for talented musicians. The only problem is that Cody doesn't play an instrument. (Why they didn't send someone who could play an insturment isn't mentioned.) But when the mind control device is perfected, the bad guys start implanting them in world leaders and controlling their every move, it's up to Cody to save the day. Wild and wacky hijinks ensue.
There was a lot that I didn't like about this movie, but it boils down to the fact that it just was too silly and stupid. The original film made sure to explain why a child agent was needed and why an adult wouldn't do. This movie bypasses any such explanations. Another difference is that the supporting characters in this film are all there to act as comic sidekicks. The eccentric weapons expert was particularly annoying.
There were a lot of really dumb scenes in the movie; it was hard to pick the worst. The mind control scenes were just brainless. (No pun intended.) But the secret agent camp at the beginning had to be the most irritating. This movie was just a series of silly gags strung together. Instead of a serious movie with comic aspects, like the original, this sequel is a wacky comedy painted onto a spy movie canvas.
Frankie Muniz tried his best to get through this movie, and did an admirable job for the most part, but his natural charm couldn't overcome the limitations of the horrid script. The food-flinging scene was particularly painful. Anthony Anderson who plays Banks London handler was good in Barbershop, but was too exuberant and wild in this picture. It's too bad these two talents weren't given better material to work with.
One irritating thing about this DVD is that there are forced trailers that play when the DVD is inserted into the player. The menu button is disabled, but you can chapter skip through them with out much problem. You shouldn't have to though; even Disney has learned that lesson.
The 5.1 English soundtrack was clean and clear, with a good dynamic range. The explosions and loud effects won't give your system a workout, but they are forceful enough. There are also soundtracks in French and Spanish, both in stereo, and subtitles are available in English, Spanish, French and Chinese.
The video quality was very good. The disc has a widescreen anamorphically enhanced image on one side, and a pan and scan version on the other. I viewed the widescreen version, and spot-checked the P&S version and the image quality seemed to be the same. There weren't any digital defects worth noting, and the colors were bright. About what you would expect from a recent film.
There were a good number of extras included on this DVD, but they all appear on the widescreen side of the DVD. There isn't anything on the P&S side, not even a screen telling you to turn the disc over, which would have been nice.
"Agent Mode" Interactive Quiz: A series of pop-up quiz questions that are shown throughout the course of the movie. The movie pauses and a question about the scene that was just shown is asked. If you get it right, you are congratulated, and if you get it wrong you get more chances until you select the correct response. This really interrupts the flow of the movie, and isn't fun the first time you see the movie.
Spy on the Set: Visual Cast Commentary: Seemless branching is used to interrupt the movie and insert the stars over the frozen scene. There are 36 of these interruptions where the three main characters talk anywhere from literally a few seconds up to a minute about the film or a scene. The whole thing feels scripted, especially the jokes, and there isn't really anything interesting that is said. This does interput the flow of the movie, so you might not want to have this option selected the first time you view the film. A regular audio commentary would have been better.
Agent Cody Banks: Back in Action: An 8½-minute fluff piece that was used to promo the movie.
Extended and deleted scenes: Six scenes that were cut from the film (or shortened) for good reasons.
Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery: A series of pictures of the cast on and off the set.
There is also a series of trailers for other MGM films.
Overall this was a wasted effort. The script was very bad, the acting was weak and the jokes were dull. Instead of a spy movie with jokes, like the first movie, this time the producers went for a total comedy, except it wasn't funny. It is amazing that no one realized what made the original movie enjoyable. It feels like they purposely extracted all of the good elements from Cody Banks 1 and discarded them. If you are really curious, you might want to rent it, but most people should Skip It, even if you enjoyed the first film.