Film review: Johnny English Reborn - delightfully daft

Published: October 11, 2011
English will leave you shaken and stirred.

English will leave you shaken and stirred.

The first reason why this James Bond spoof works well as a comedy is that it doesn’t resort to any of the gross out toilet humor, which plagues such kind of films. The second is that it is a perfect to showcase the talents of Rowan Atkinson, the star of the movie. Atkinson, who is best known for his work in legendary British TV comedies, is a bona fide genius when it comes to tickling the funny bone. And in Johnny English Reborn, he has a fairly good platform to blast one laugh-out-loud gag, after another.

The movie opens with the spiritual rebirth of emotionally scarred British spy Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) amongst the Tibetan monks, who teach our hero one amusingly painful lesson after another. After his training is incomplete — you’ll have to watch the film to get that one — English flies back to MI7 in London, where he is put on a mission to uncover the conspiracy behind the attempt on the life of the Chinese premier, who is scheduled to visit the United Kingdom on a state visit. In between amusing martial arts bits in Hong Kong, and comical golfing shenanigans back in England, the spy goes on a mirthful adventure where he eventually saves the day, and his country’s government from humiliation.

The largest issue with the film is that most of the plot points feel a touch too foreseeable, and lack originality. Also, some of the early gags do come across as a bit contrived. Having said that, the film does deliver hilarity with some consistency, and on five or six occasions I was wiping away tears of laughter. Thankfully, the film also avoids a genre cliché by not portraying its lead as a bumbling pushover, with him able to hold his own in difficult circumstances.

Something also worth mentioning is that Johnny English Reborn is unexpectedly finding cinematic release in Pakistan before many major markets, including North America, which is a welcome thing for our troubled nation. It is difficult to review a comedy, because humour is so subjective, but if the crowd was any indication, then this movie should find plenty of love at the box office.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, October 9th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • Ahsan Mansoor
    Oct 11, 2011 - 1:33PM

    Loved the movie. The best scene was him asking for 24 hours while sitting besides British Prime Minister.


  • Ralph Cook
    Oct 18, 2011 - 6:28PM

    In a ‘real’ Bond movie trivia never interferes with the plot. Exactly how is it that Bond always flies or drives to obscure mountain locations without once glancing at a map? In Johnny English, however, trivia is everything. Aloft in a helicopter the daft crew have to descend to ground level to read the road signs (‘What is your altitude?’ reply- ‘One foot’.). Going to Switzerland? ok– ‘Set the sat nav’. After setting off several hundred speed cameras on the way the Rolls Royce (a model Rowan Atkinson has actually owned in real life) duely arrives, and we next hear the infernal machine state ‘you have arrived at your destination’. Of course, Rowan play the fool brilliantly- but his character is in fact not the complete idiot and after a catalogue of disasters, true to the British national stereotype he somehow outwits all the villains in the end. Ok, the plot is a prediicable spoof of 1980’s Bond movies, but that is really all part of the fun. It’s much harder to sustain laughs in a feature length movie than in a TV episode, but I think this one works quite well in this respect. Johnny English is also genuine family entertainment and the kids will love it: this has certainly helped to put it at the top of the Box office here in the UK, no matter what the professional pundits may think of it.


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