Film reviews

Johnny English - Dir: Peter Howitt - Cert: PG

Johnny English falls neatly and specifically, whether the filmmakers like it or not, into the category of a James Bond spoof. The film stars Rowan Atkinson, in the titular role, with Ben Miller (from Channel 4’s excellent Miller & Armstrong show) as sidekick Bough. The two characters are inspired by and loosely based-upon various Barclaycard adverts in which Rowan Atkinson did something inept and / or stupid as part of a credit-card-wielding spy.

In a bid to save Good Ole Blighty from becoming the world’s biggest prison Johnny English, Bough and the very beautiful Natalie Imbruglia have to thwart John Malkovich’s half-hearted French-King-of-England wannabe by a series of misadventures. The gags are slapstick and simple and gently amusing but there are no deep belly laughs or moments of astounding wit to keep you reminiscing hours after you have left the cinema. Part of this is due to the mediocre script coupled with the fact that merely seeing Rowan Atkinson ones expects to be highly amused. But alas there is no witty Curtis / Elton crafted script to hark back to the days of Blackadder.

This aside the visual / slapstick gags are quite amusing and the film attempts to do nothing other than provide ninety minutes of gentle, angst-free entertainment. Comedy is without a doubt the most difficult of the forms of entertainment to get right. Perhaps the film could be viewed more as a trailer for more Johnny English films to follow. Obviously that would be dependent on the success of this one thought.

The film has a thorough English feel to it with broad sweeping aerial shots of London and some of the action takes place around the Canary Wharf. It also seems to have shaken off the image that many British films seem to have; the one where the films budget is ridiculously small. Even though it may not have a $75m budget it looks impressive.

Whilst not in the same league as Austin Powers, arguably the most successful spy spoof franchise, Johnny English nevertheless provides an easy evening’s comedic entertainment. Considering the popularity of Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean there seems little doubt that Johnny English will be a sure-fire family hit around the world. 6/10

Harry Lime

Odeon Online


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