Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Ben Miller, Olga Kurylenko, Emma Thompson, Jake Lacy
Director: David Kerr
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Rating: PG for Chaotically Silly Action and a Quick Shot of Someone’s Bum
Release Date: October 26, 2018
There is a scene about halfway through Johnny English Strikes Again that sums up the appeal of this spy spoof. As the title MI7 secret agent, Rowan Atkinson is tasked with preparing for an infiltration mission by navigating a VR simulation of the mansion that he will be breaking into. There is a moving platform that he is supposed to remain on throughout, but he hits the wrong button and ends up wandering through the streets of London with his VR goggles on, oblivious to the everyday city life continuing to go on around him. He completes the simulation with miraculously little disorientation, but he is wholly unaware (and effectively unaccountable) for all the havoc he has left in his wake. Johnny English is absolutely a Supreme Bumble in the Atkinson mold, but his confidence is unparalleled and (because of some mix of forces beyond our understanding) he is the perfect man for the job.
This James Bond parody quite reminds me of The Stupids, the Tom Arnold-starring, John Landis-directed underrated gem about a family of supposed fools who somehow manage to foil a black market arms deal. English is a lot more respected by his peers and colleagues than the Stupids are, but he is still prone to pratfalls and inadvertent pants-droppings. But his record is clear: where everyone else is foiled, he is the one who brings the evil mastermind to his comeuppance. In terms that we can understand, the traits that serve him best as both a spy and a movie are his unbridled enthusiasm and his admirably unapologetic nature. In this chapter, that means we also get to see Atkinson dance to such such club hits as Darude’s “Sandstorm” and Sigma’s “Changing,” and how can you say no to that? Altogether, this is delightful English silliness we can all benefit from having in our cinematic diet.
Johnny English Strikes Again is Recommended If You Like: Rowan Atkinson, Proper British silliness, The Stupids
Grade: 3 out of 5 London Lemmings