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November 5, 2011


Capsule Movie Review – Johnny English Reborn (2011)


I haven’t seen Johnny English (2003) but if it’s as much fun as its sequel, it deserved to be a box office smash in Europe. On the face of it, another Bond movie parody is a doubtful proposition. It’s not as if it hasn’t been done before or as if the real series hadn’t descended into self-parody years ago. This particular parody succeeds by starting by playing it straight. Names and nomenclature aside, Johnny English Reborn is a Bond movie in the classic mold, with just two critical differences: 1) its eponymous secret agent hero is played by Rowan Atkinson and 2) no self-respecting Bond movie would be caught dead wearing that budget. A short, homely 007 with an inferiority complex is an innately ridiculous spectacle that Atkinson and the writers milk for all it’s worth. The second point is turned to comedy gold in parodic set-piece action sequences like the car chase where the getaway vehicle is an electric wheelchair and the whole event causes not the tiniest bit of property damage. It’s perfectly safe to take the kids, too. You don’t need to have seen a Bond movie- and surely children are the only moviegoers left who haven’t- to laugh at Atkinson’s adroit physical comedy or the movie’s pervasive, disarming silliness.

3 stars

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 5 2011

    I saw the trailers to both films and they both look terrible. And as much as people had been crapping on the first Johnny English film, most say (like yourself) that the sequel is rather okay. It kills time and you don’t wish for it back.

    Is it too much to ask from Hollywood to deliver movies like that on a regular basis? I’d rather watch simple, decent films all year round than have to watch garbage week after week, in wait until mid-November to see a few great ones. The ratio of good to bad films would change drastically.

  2. Nov 6 2011

    The first movie completely passed me by. I didn’t even know it existed until the sequel came out.

  3. Nov 6 2011


  4. Movie
    Nov 18 2011

    [comment deleted as spam]

  5. Nov 19 2011

    …spam bot?

  6. Nov 19 2011

    the spam filter misses them sometimes (the limits of technology…)

  7. Nov 28 2011

    I watched “Johnny English” this weekend on DVD and now have another answer to the “sequels better than the originals” trivia game. It had some funny bits but “Reborn” is much better. The Johnny English character in the first film is a bumbling incompetent of the accidental spy type, which has really been done to death. In the sequel, he’s the genuine article who just happens to make the occasional colossal blunder- and has the looks of a Rowan Atkinson instead of a Sean Connery et al. I liked that take on the character a lot more.

  8. Alex Parkes
    Mar 31 2013

    Yet another moronic review, okay so it doesn’t have a massive budget or stunning special effects but this film was never meant to be taken seriously. Genius acting by Rowan Atkinson and dry british humour (clearly not appreciated by our American counterparts) makes this film. As for never having heard of the original, I don’t see how you can be an established film critic if you have only heard of the sequel; to me this only gives away your lack of knowledge of the british film industry. People need to understand that this is a daft film, more in keeping with Monty Python than James Bond. Please understand that this film is taking the piss out of itself more than you can take the piss out of it and that is what makes it so funny. Watch the original, you won’t be disappointed as long as you aren’t expecting the next Skyfall.

  9. Apr 1 2013

    @Alex: You didn’t actually read my review, did you? To quote myself, JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN is “comedy gold”.

  10. Apr 1 2013

    I’m curious as to whether Alex is even old enough to be intolerant because what he/she writes is rather… amazingly dumb. Well, who cares. Some people can’t read and some people don’t read. I cannot explain the latter. :O)