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Johnny English

Starring: Mr. Bean, Ben Miller, Natalie Imbruglia and John Malkovich
Directed by: Peter Howitt
Rated: PG

 

 

Rowan Atkinson is one of the finest physical comedians in the world. He can de-spine his body on a whim. He also has a knack for facial manipulation that often makes one wonder if his face is made of Marzipan. In Johnny English he displays a bit of both of these talents within a so-so script.

Story goes…. Desk bound secret agent Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is about to get his dream job thanks to the demise of every other British agent in service to the queen. His mission is simple...or he's simple...I can't recall. He has to guard the newly restored Crown Jewels from any thieves lurking about at the celebration de unveiling hosted by wealthy hoity toity Frenchman Pascal Sauvage (John - what's he doing in this pray tell?- Malkovich).

Naturally faster then bangers and mash produces Jell-O-like cellulite on the population the jewels are stolen. Oopsie.

Johnny is not deterred. He's a gung ho company Britannic. He'll get the culprit. Well, his assistant (Ben Miller) and he will - since he can't even manage a regulation handgun properly…

His sleuthing leads him (almost immediately) onto the trail of the host, Sauvage.

Seems Sauvage has a naughty le plan for England and it aint Foie Gras hamburger franchises! Sauvage hates the British deeply and apparently his family would have been crowned overlords of the place had the French not been le booted from the little island a few hundred years ago. He will have his revenge with a heavy creme anglaise atop!

Only Johnny and his assistant and beautiful love interest (Natalie Imbruglia) can save the people, the queen and the land.

Yeah, yeah…you know the story already - it's Secret Agent Formula 101 - face it. Rowan does what he can to stretch a character he first made famous in television spots for a credit card commercial.

As effeminate stereotype Pascal Sauvage, Mega-talent John Malkovich does the worst impersonation of a Frenchman I think I've ever heard. Dear god was it suppose to twist the cranium like that when he spoke? Distracting!

It's a noble attempt and there are a few genuinely knee slapping moments. But there's nothing very fresh within the mayhem. The story relies greatly on the ongoing historical tension between the French and British - hardee har har - and of course Rowan's signature antics stiched into a bad Bond spoof. It's a safe family movie that never indulges itself in the riotous.

Snack recommendation: Le Choucroute du Baron and Guiness

 

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