Neither the filmmakers nor the studio would never cop to it, but the first "Agent Cody Banks" movie was little more than an attempt to cash in on the success of rising star Frankie Muniz . . . and to rip off the "Spy Kids" films.

Given that, there was little hope that the quickly rushed-out sequel, "Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London," would be any better. So it's no surprise that it's actually worse.

In fact, to be honest, this supposed action-comedy is so staggeringly unfunny, unoriginal and uninspired that its title should have been "Agent Cody Banks 2: Contractually Obligated Sequel."

This time, Muniz's teenage spy-in-training character is off to Merry Old England, where he's on the trail of his former trainer, Diaz (Keith Allen), who has stolen some experimental mind-control software he plans to sell to a ruthless British businessman, Lord Duncan Kenworth (James Faulkner). To get closer, Cody poses as an American exchange student in a musically gifted program run by Kenworth's wife (Anna Chancellor).

He is also teamed with Derek (Anthony Anderson), a new CIA handler who is more hindrance than help. And then there's Emily (Hannah Spearritt), a fellow music student who seems to be watching Cody closely.

Director Kevin Allen's rather slack pacing ensures that this 100-minute mess feels like it's 100 hours. At times the cast seems to be making it up as they go. Which could explain why Muniz seems so bored. And his adult co-stars don't seem particularly inspired either. For Anderson, clowning around in bad material is nothing new, but you certainly expect better from the likes of Chancellor, Keith David and Cynthia Stevenson.

"Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London" is rated PG for scenes of action violence (including some hand-to-hand combat, explosive mayhem and some slapstick), vulgar humor about bodily functions, scattered use of mild profanity, and some brief drug content (anesthetic use). Running time: 101 minutes.


E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com