Johnny English (2003)
Rowan Atkinson is someone who is often called “the rubber-faced funnyman”, but he probably welcomed the chance to leave behind Mr Bean for a while, and return to another of his popular comedy characters from the 90s. Atkinson appeared in a series of memorable adverts for Barclaycard where he played a bumbling spy called Richard Latham, and this film featured a variation on that character.
Johnny English is an inept but rather patriotic spy. But if he can cause a mishap somewhere, he will. He may think that he is fearless, but he is more useless. Due to an awkward series of events, he becomes Britain’s leading spy. Also featuring is his assistant Bough (Ben Miller, although Henry Naylor played this character in the adverts), and the glamorous Lorna (Natalie Imbruglia).
Johnny is challenged to investigate the very difficult case of the plot to steal the crown jewels, and the Frenchman Pascal is aiming to oust the monarchy and become this country’s king. This is of course a rather tense situation, and the Prime Minister is among those who is kept informed. Johnny now has access to weapons, and cars with all kinds of fancy bells and whistles. Can he come to the rescue?
Johnny insists that he will do his duty, and if this includes exposing an archbishop’s bottom right in front of everyone to get to the truth, then he will. Pascal will not become king, not on his watch! Who needs James Bond when you’ve got this. Johnny English was an amusingly daft film, with a few set-pieces, as Johnny went from one disaster to the next. The critics were rather divided on how amusing this all was, but it’s always good seeing Atkinson doing his thing.
Extras include a making of, character profiles, and you can access even more if you put the disc into your computer, the things you can do with modern technology nowadays. The film has gone on to be repeated several times, but usually in the Channel 5 or ITV2 in the afternoon slot. There was still enough left in the idea for there to be a sequel though, and I’ll review that soon too. There was also a third film not so long ago that passed me by somewhat, I don’t have that one in my collection.