In Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, spunky little Cody (Frankie Muniz) is back working for the CIA, this time in England, battling rogue agents who have stolen a mind-control device that--yes--could spell the end of the world--again--as we know it.

The predecessor to this enervated sequel was a delightful surprise, handsomely filmed and filled with fabulous gadgetry and sprightly humor. This one is just one long infomercial with the most blatant product placement ever seen, an audience gesture that is simply contemptuous. Mentos, which double as--gee whiz!--bombs, have replaced all the high-tech goodies of the original and the comedy is strained to the max. The ubiquitous Anthony Anderson pops up as Cody's handler and once more pulls the image of African-Americans down to new cinematic lows, spraying himself with chocolate while bumbling in a kitchen and snuggling in bed with a "blankie" Cody accuses him of concealing. The racial offensiveness continues in the character of an East Indian girl at the music school where Cody hides out, a sexlessly geeky little irritant, replete with that always "amusing" accent ("You vil be my voodvind buddy!"). The Brits are mostly presented as fey, nattering or purely evil. Anna Chancellor does inject some sly, if fitful, sensuality.

Under the circumstances, Muniz manages to retain his wide-eyed, harried charm, but the film is really a shameful disservice to both him and the family audience which will no doubt turn out in droves to see it, rightfully expecting something resembling real entertainment.

-David Noh