Monday, 17 October 2011

Review: Johnny English Reborn

When I left the cinema after seeing the sequel to Johnny English I had a very odd feeling, and in fact I still have it. I felt as though I’d enjoyed the film. Now that’s not that unusual, enjoying a film, but it is when it’s a comedy and I didn’t laugh at it, in fact I think it only made me smirk about twice. But still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d had a lot of fun, and I really can’t work out why. It’s a film that although not awful is fundamentally flawed at almost every level, but still manages to escape with a strange likeability. So, although it’s not a film many people will care about the review, I feel it must be tackled, even if just to give me peace of mind. Let’s split it up into three categories which a comedy film must excel in at least one to be good: plot, characters, jokes.


The plot is nuts. Like it’s just ridiculous. Basically it involves Johnny travelling to different places to be involved in different comedy set pieces and ignores the fact that it should also make some kind of sense. Every time he goes somewhere we meet new characters with new revelations and then they go away again either dead or never seen again. First guy, there’s a key used for an evil group, then he dies, second guy, there’s a mole in MI7, then he dies, then we meet the most obvious mole in history who persuades Johnny he’s innocent by, being trustworthy? I think it’s supposed to be a joke, but it goes on for so long and gets so strained it’s just not funny anymore. Also, Johnny saw him and has a memory that’s hidden just long enough that the plot manages to make it useless. And half of the action happens off-screen and why are they meeting the Chiense ambassador in snowy mountains and why does the wheelchair guy not realize something’s off when Johnny tells him that he thinks he’s the mole when he thinks Johnny is, and how can Johnny survive getting poisoned, he fights the mind control, but surely it should still kill him and not just bring him back with the power of love? Basically, the plot’s confusing and so full of holes that it’s more holes than plot at this stage.


There are only really five characters who are on screen for any kind of time. Johnny English, his sidekick, his boss, his love interest and the obvious mole.
Johnny English is Rowan Atkinson doing a cross between Mr Bean and Blackadder, but with kung-fu and it doesn’t work at all. He is supposedly now a master of martial arts and self control and is also a lot more mature with more put downs and sarcasm. But then he’s also an idiot who can’t see the truth in front of him, can’t remember what any of the gadgets are and doesn’t even put his trousers on the right way round and one point. Basically there seems to be two Johnny’s a smart one and a stupid one and it makes him the most inconsistent man ever. One second he’s fighting off three men at once with a chain and the next he can’t even work a chain. At least he isn’t quite as irritating as he was in the first film.
The sidekick is a naïve but keen student of Johnny’s and basically that plays out the way you’d think. He has ideas but Johnny shoots him down, but it turns out he was right and Johnny’s sorry him and he helps to save the day. The end.
His boss is an angry woman who doesn’t approve of Johnny. That’s about it.
His love interest is a scientist who’s a bit cold and initially doesn’t like Johnny but she’s charmed by him and they get together. That’s it.
The obvious mole is obviously the bad guy. It’s McNulty from The Wire hamming it up as a villain and it’s very entertaining. But he’s still just a cardboard villain.
So the characters are all just stereotypes and not even very interesting ones at that.


Is it funny? No. The set pieces are barely jokes at all, it just seems to be Johnny English doing cool stuff. It’s fun to watch but it’s not funny. There’s a running joke of Johnny getting attacked by an old Asian woman and getting confused with her and other women, such as his boss’s mother and the Queen in the most cringe worthy ending put to film. Most of the jokes you can tell from a mile away, like the scene where Johnny looks at his gadgets and gets confused between them and you know he’ll get confused later on in a stupid circumstance. And even the other jokes are very funny, Johnny can’t work a chair in a meeting and goes up and down while they discuss serious things, it’s old, it’s predictable and it’s dull.

So in conclusion, this film has a nonsensical plot, stock characters and unfunny jokes. This makes it a complete failure as a comedy film. Therefore I should hate it. I don’t though and I think I know realise why. It’s fun. It’s not inventive or funny or doing anything interesting, but it’s got a very likeable atmosphere. It doesn’t mean to offend and it just goes along doing it’s thing and then ends. You didn’t get anything out of it, but it’s relaxing. That isn’t the aim of the film and it’s still an awful film, but just not in a way that smacks you in the face with how bad it is. Therefore, terrible film, don’t pay for it, but if it was on TV one day and there’s nothing better on, maybe give it one viewing before forgetting about it forever.


Perfect analogy for the film. Fun for a second, and then just awful.

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