Saw <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Title?0274166">Johnny English</a> the other day. It's a Bond spoof,
using Rowan Atkinson's character from the similar Barclaycard commercials of a few years back; Atkinson
stars as the title character.
Other primary characters include Natalie Imbruglia as Lorna Campbell (that name strikes me as unusual for a Aussie Interpol agent; very Scottish),
Ben Miller as this year's Bough, and John Malkovich as Pascal Sauvage.
First off, it's a Rowan Atkinson movie, and a Bond spoof, so let's not labour under any misconceptions: it's very
light entertainment indeed, and you should bear that in mind if going to see it. It's safe to assume that you can
expect lots of cock-ups, physical humour, outrageous egocentricity, and general assorted mishaps. And the movie
It's not clever or imaginitive in any way, but then I didn't particularly want it to be - I went to see Atkinson
doing his usual goofy-spy thing, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. There's something about his
straight-faced delivery and omnipresent Blackadder-like raised eyebrow that never fails to make me laugh. High
points included the destruction of the police speed-camera, and Atkinson's assertion to the Archbishop of Canterbury
that "your face is made of plastic".
Imbruglia does the work capably, reminding us that she can actually act (I was impressed she could keep a straight face
for even a single take of the "I want to do things to you" scene in the French cafe), and Malkovich does a passable
French villain, though he does sometimes seem to be wondering what's going on.
I suppose that a big part of the attraction of Johnny English is its very Englishness. Atkinson's character's complete disdain
for the French, the Queen being threatened with the death of one of her corgis, the very straight-laced MI7 head, Pegasus, and
so much more combine to feel very comfortable and indulgent; a great atmosphere for Atkinson's brand of super-confident foolishness.
I'm not sure that non-UK folk would find as much to like, particularly those not familiar with Atkinson's other work, but then I'm
not sure if it's getting a release elsewhere.
I enjoyed Johnny English a great deal, and I'd certainly go and see it again. Don't go expecting anything "worthy" or deep - it's pure, lighthearted fantasy
living somewhere between Blackadder and Mr Bean - but don't be surprised if you enjoy it a lot more than you thought you would.