Capsule Movie Review – Johnny English Reborn (2011)
by HELEN GEIB
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.