A Film Review By The Mike
Rating:PG-13 for all the things most PG-13 comedies have in them
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Natalie Imbruglia, John Malkovich
Directed By: Peter Howitt
Johnny English is the tale of Britain’s most accident-prone spy. I didn’t really relate with the character, until I was driving home from the movie when I myself got in an accident. That has nothing to do with the movie, but it’s a little ironic, don’t you think?
As for the movie, Johnny English is a comedy that tries too hard to be original while having a plot that is completely unoriginal. There are many who say it loses its punch due to its similarities to the Austin Powers series, but I liken it more to a film like Dumb and Dumber. Austin Powers wasn’t an inept spy, he was simply a different one.
Then again, my biggest problem with Johnny English is that the character was not really inept or different. There are moments when the film goes out of its way to make the character look silly and idiotic, but there are also moments where he suddenly pulls off an amazing feat. When seeing English swerving neatly through traffic seconds after having his clip fall from his gun while pointing it at a villain, my thoughts ran wild. Why would the filmmakers make him look like an idiot for a laugh, and then place him in a scene where he makes something great happen? Usually just to develop the plot. It’s a cheap cop out, one that puts the entire movie’s purpose in question.
Despite its inequities, Johnny English serves up some good laughs. The problem is that the script is pretty predictable, and a lot of jokes lose power due to this fact. Who would have guessed that Johnny would get covered in poop while climbing up the drainpipe from the toilets? Or that the tattoo on the bottom of an unused impostor would lead Johnny to depantsing a priest? Pretty much anyone over three, that’s who.
The biggest thing going for Johnny English is Rowan Atkinson, who again proves to be a comic genius. Fans of him as TV’s Mr. Bean (or even the failed movie) will not be disappointed by the comedic performance. With better material, he could be one of the greatest comic stars we’ve seen. But unfortunately he continues to make bad decisions that lead to films like Scooby-Doo. The rest of the cast is forgettable, with pop star Natalie Imbruglia playing the female spy/love interest and John Malkovich playing the French villain. The greatly talented Malkovich is a major disappointment, he’s wasted playing a character that any actor could have. The silliness of his accent and the creepily long hair are not funny either, and we’re left with a big empty feeling by his performance.
It sounds so far like I hated Johnny English, but really there’s no reason to condemn it. Atkinson’s star power alone makes the film watchable, and I almost enjoyed it. It’s a forgettable comedy that will leave your mind soon after you see it, especially if you’re in an accident on the way home. And if you are in that scenario, never admit you were just went out of your way to see Johnny English…the cops would probably say the wreck was your fault!