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Friday, March 12, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Movie Review
Here comes Banks, Cody Banks, in lackluster spy sequel

By Moira Macdonald
Seattle Times movie critic

JAY MAIDMENT
Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz) and Derek (Anthony Anderson) are in London to try to recover a stolen mind-control device and save the world. Too bad they couldn't save this sequel.
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Remember "Agent Cody Banks," that smash hit from 2003? Probably not, because it wasn't a smash hit. The kiddie secret-agent movie, starring Frankie Muniz and Hilary Duff, didn't even manage to crack the year's top 50 box-office list. Nonetheless, here comes the sequel, like a party guest nobody can remember inviting. And, like that mythical guest, it's tolerable if you're plied with sufficient refreshment (popcorn, anyone?), but just barely.

Duff clearly had better things to do this time around, but Muniz and his perpetual expression of wide-eyed astonishment are back. He's likable, as is his blond counterpart Hannah Spearritt (a Kirsten Dunst lookalike), but the movie has an obligatory, going-through-the-motions feel to it. It's overfamiliar and never as funny as it needs to be.

The kids are in London to recover a stolen mind-control device and save the world, and Muniz, Spearritt, Anthony Anderson (as young Cody's wisecracking grown-up handler) and the rest do their best with the gadgets, duels and adventure required of this junior James Bond.

Movie review


Showtimes and trailer


"Agent Cody Banks: Destination London," with Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson, Hannah Spearritt, Cynthia Stevenson, Daniel Roebuck, Keith David. Directed by Kevin Allen, from a screenplay by Don Rhymer. 93 minutes. Rated PG for action violence and some crude humor. Several theaters.

But too much of "Destination London" smacks of desperation; there's even a rather pathetic flatulence joke that didn't register at all with an audience of kids at the preview screening. (Perhaps this will be the topic of somebody's film-school thesis someday: "When Flatulence Fails.") And when the filmmakers reference "Apocalypse Now" — a film that, to my knowledge, is not popular with the grade-school set at which this film is aimed — you start wondering if any of the film's long lineup of producers (which include, mysteriously, Madonna and Jason Alexander of "Seinfeld") actually read this script.

Kids may well find the film diverting, but there's just not a lot of creativity or energy here. With such terrific recent family movies as "School of Rock" and "Whale Rider" available on DVD, "Destination London" isn't really worth a trip to the multiplex — except, of course, for the refreshments.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com


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