It is now official: The James Bond films have been spoofed for all they are worth. Please…NO MORE!
Funny how I can make that plea and still give Johnny English a fairly positive review. While it lives up to the very definition of hit and miss, the parts that hit are very funny. Credit for this goes entirely to Rowan Atkinson.
The plot is as straightforward as they come, and as predictable. Atkinson plays Johnny English, a bumbling spy who assigned to the case of the missing Crown Jewels after all the other spies are wiped out in an explosion. John (what is he doing in this?) Malkovich plays Pascal Sauvage, the French jewel thief and man who wants to be the next King. English’s partner in action is Bough (Ben Miller), and Natalie Imbruglia (yes, the singer…since so many people have that last name) plays Lorna Campbell. I think she is just in the film for the sake of there being a female present.
The entire film pans out completely as expected. There are no surprises here, but then again, are there ever surprises in Bond movies? I think not!
As I said above, the film’s quirky elements that work are due to Atkinson. Not only is he a very funny-looking man (I say that affectionately), but he is also the master of the straight face. He is the Frank Drebin of the Bond spoofs, if you will. It is the way in which Atkinson portrays English as a man who is surrounded in slapstick, yet does not know it that makes bits of this film really work.
There are plenty of antics which, however, do not work. Luckily the film progresses at a good pace and the jokes are fairly nonstop.
Have we had enough of Bond spoofs? Oh yeah. This film was unnecessary, yet I found myself liking it. Fans of Rowan Atkinson will no doubt be delighted with the film. To everyone else: Proceed with caution if you are burnt out on Bond spoofing.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Length: 88 Minutes
Rating: PG for comic nudity, some crude humor and language.
Theatrical Release: July 18, 2003
Directed by: Peter Howitt
Written by: Neal Purvis & Robert Wade & William Davies.
Cast: Rowan Atkinson, John Malkovich, Tasha de Vasconcelos, Ben Miller, Greg Wise, Douglas McFerran