I didn't particularly care for the first "Agent Cody Banks", considering it a take-off on "Spy Kids" that didn't have much originality or energy. Still, I was willing to give the film's sequel a chance, given the replacing of the original's director with Kevin Allen ("Twin Town" and the very funny "Big Tease"). While still not very inspired and not up to what I'd hope from the series, I found the sequel funnier and generally more entertaining than the first film.
The sequel once again follows Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz of "Malcolm in the Middle"), a teenager who was picked in the original to be a secret agent in the CIA. The second film picks up with Cody at a CIA camp where Cody and a series of other kids are trained to further their skills as secret agents. Unfortunately, one of the counselors (Keith Allen) is thought to have stolen a mind-control device. Posing as a clarinetist for the International Youth Orchestra, Cody sneaks his way into a London scientist's lair to try and deactivate the device before it can be used on world leaders.
With the assistance of Derek (Anthony Anderson, acctually funny in a performance that doesn't try so hard), Cody attempts to save the day with a little added help from a member of the orchestra who may not be who she seems(British pop star Hannah Spearritt). The film's performances are perfectly adquate for the material; while I've never been that much of a fan of Muniz on "Malcolm in the Middle" (father Hal, played by Brian Cranston, has always been the true genius of the show), his performance is at least considerably less bland here. Spearritt doesn't get a whole lot of screentime, but she's enjoyable in her few major scenes.
Despite not getting a budget increase over the original, the film at least is somewhat more visually interesting than the first film, which seemed awfully static. The effects are, unfortunately, pretty much trotted out in an early scene, with the rest of the movie rather light on much dazzle, but pleasing in terms of locations in and around London. Pacing is better this time around, and the requirement of Banks to fake his clarinet skills does surprisingly mine a few laughs.
While nothing spectacular, nothing too far different from the original and occasionally irritating (note the product placements), "Agent Cody Banks 2" at least takes a similar formula for the original, works with the same budget and manages to keep things running more smoothly.
VIDEO: "Agent Cody Banks 2" is presented by MGM/UA in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan & scan, each on their own side of a dual-sided disc. The anamorphic widescreen presentation is generally very good, with only a few minor issues taking away from the overall image quality. Sharpness and detail seemed first-rate, as the picture remained continually well-defined.
A little bit of edge enhancement appeared in a couple of scenes, but it was hardly noticable. Slight compression artifacts were also spotted on one or two occasions. The print looked stellar, however, with no specks, marks or other flaws. The film's vivid color palette remained bright and vivid, with no smearing or other flaws.
SOUND: "Agent Cody Banks 2" is presented by MGM in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack was inconsistent, but had moments of moderately aggressive sound use that extended the action nicely out into the room. Audio quality was fine; while this wasn't a terribly dynamic soundtrack, it had some moderately fierce moments which boasted respectable bass. Dialogue remained clear and clean, with no concerns.
EXTRAS: Instead of a traditional audio commentary, "Agent Cody Banks 2" has a visual-only commentary with actors Hannah Spearritt, Anthony Anderson and Frankie Muniz. Rather unusual, the commentary pauses the film and has the actors walking on-screen and talking in-front (literally) of the movie, before starting it back-up again. Neat in terms of technology, but a visual-only commentary makes for some noticable patches throughout of no comments and some may be slightly bothered by the movie pausing, then starting. Hopefully, this also won't cause any technical issues with this disc and certain players. The commentary itself is fine, but will likely appeal to younger audiences more, as the stories consist of tales like when Muniz and a co-star were yelled at for getting McDonalds between shots.
Aside from the commentary, there's also an interactive quiz, a 9-minute "making of" featurette, a photo gallery, the film's trailer, a total of 6 deleted/extended scenes and promos for other MGM titles.
Final Thoughts: It's not substancial and it doesn't have any real message, but as light kids entertainment goes, "Agent Cody Banks 2" passes the time reasonably well. The DVD edition provides fine audio/video quality, along with a few solid supplements. A rental for the kids.
The Film ** 1/2