Johnny English Reborn

LEAF ARBUTHNOT is disappointed by Rowan Atkinson’s inability to make her spill at least a couple of bodily fluids in ‘Johnny English Reborn’.

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Directed by Oliver Parker



Let me lay the cards on the table: I’m a sucker for Mr Bean. After all, he taught me how to laugh until I empathised with torture victims and my stomach felt as achey as if I’d been upchucking for 24 hours straight. The mere photo of Rowan Atkinson’s face is capable of outing my weakness – just seeing that nose and those watery eyes can make me grin like an idiot.

So I trundled along to the showing of Johnny English Reborn knowing that I would have to do battle with my soft spot, and slightly worried that I would freak out my fellow cinema-goers by sliding off my seat in an epic breakdown of uncontrollable laughter. Thankfully, the film only made me chortle, albeit quite a bit. No vomiting, no peeing, no begging for the screen to be turned off. Phew.

However, there was a part of me that was disappointed by my bone-dry undergarments. This film is essentially slapstick, of the balls-kicking, limb-flailing variety. The cast is solid, including Rosamund Pike and Dominic Cooper, but ultimately they are all Atkinson’s accessories.

The story is entirely predictable; but that’s not an out-and-out criticism, as the ease with which I followed the plot came as a refreshing palette-cleanser after the unfathomability of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

There’s no escaping the fact that Rowan Atkinson is a comedy genius. He can mould his face into a fantastic array of crazy expressions and chuck his arms about in ways which shouldn’t be funny but somehow are. The film did exploit this innate gift, but it seemed to be constantly vying for the spotlight, shored up as it was by banks of glossy bullshit and pseudo-action movie wank that felt more than a little tired.

Ultimately, this was a funny and light-hearted crowd-pleaser, but one which suffered from some money-conscious idiots’ decision to place Mr Bean on a Hollywood set. One to be watched – perhaps – on ITV in a couple of years.