Johnny English Review
By Shawn McKenzie 07/18/2003
I’m one movie geek who is not obsessed with Rowan Atkinson. Through his characters in “Mr. Bean” and “The Black Adder,” he has become somewhat of a cult hero. I even remember people touting his performance in the relatively lame movie Rat Race. I’ve never shared the same enthusiasm for the comedic actor. Up until now, my favorite Atkinson performance was as Father Gerald in Four Weddings and a Funeral. That was until Johnny English came along.
Johnny English is a member of Britain’s Intelligence Unit MI-7. He is a lower level agent who mostly does desk work, but he dreams of one day going out on assignment, like his idol, Agent Number One (Greg Wise.) When Agent One dies on his latest assignment, all of the other agents attend his funeral (apparently none of them are currently on assignment.) English is put in charge of security for the funeral, but he messes that up when the bad guys are able to plant a bomb in the casket which blows up and kills all the agents. English is now the only agent left, and he finally gets to live out his dream of doing field work. The head of MI-7, Pegasus (Tim Pigott-Smith), gives English his first assignment, which is to head the security for the newly restored Crown Jewels. They will be on display during a party at the Tower of London. One of the party attendees will be Pascal Sauvage (John Malkovich) whose company runs prisons and did the restoration of the Crown Jewels. English and his assistant, Bough (Ben Miller; English pronounces the character’s name as “Boff” throughout the movie), attend the party, where English meets an attractive woman named Lorna Campbell (Natalie Imbruglia.) Suddenly, the lights go out, and the Crown Jewels disappear. English and Bough discover a hole later underneath where the Crown Jewels were being displayed and follow it until they run into the thieves. After chasing them, the thieves manage to get away. English suspects Sauvage is behind the robbery and goes against the instructions of Pegasus by investigating him. English and Bough decide to break into Sauvage’s office to get evidence of his involvement in the disappearance of the crown jewels. They discover that Sauvage is indeed behind the theft, and he has a dastardly plan involving them. While at the building, they run into Campbell, who they find out is a member of the Secret Service. English, Bough, and Campbell must now race to save Britain by stopping Sauvage from implementing his evil plan.
I laughed out loud several times during this movie! There were times I didn’t know if I could take it, because the movie was so funny. It rivals Austin Powers in terms of spy spoofs, and his character is a more direct parody of James Bond than Powers was. His ineptitude did remind me a lot of Lt. Frank Drebin from the Naked Gun movies though (that isn’t a bad thing!) From English’s dream at the beginning of the movie to the gag at the end (hint: remember the description English gives Pegasus of what the thief looks like), your sides will ache with laughter.
I don’t know if Johnny English has now made me a Atkinson groupie now, but this is certainly the funniest thing I have ever seen him in. I will say that Imbruglia impressed me, and I think that maybe she should get out of singing and into acting. You have to check this flick out and compare it with Austin Powers. I certainly hope it is a hit, because I would welcome a series of English flicks, and I hope that one day this goofy agent will one day meet a certain groovy agent from the sixties. Yeah baby!
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