Rowan Atkinson is back to his old antics as a bumbling spy in Johnny English Reborn.

Aisle Seat: Atkinson has seen better days

Jason Armstrong reviews Johnny English Reborn, giving it two-and-a-half stars out of five.

  • Oct. 30, 2011 8:00 p.m.

Let’s face it, the character of Johnny English exists not so we can have an amusing James Bond spoof, but so Mr. Bean can talk.

Chaplin opened his mouth eventually, why not Rowan Atkinson?  (I know, I know, the actor has enjoyed a fair share of speaking roles, most across the big pond, just hang with me here.)

Unfortunately, the 2003 comedy Johnny English was only so-so, and the brand new sequel, Johnny English Reborn, ain’t much better.

See, while Atkinson’s rubber faced Bean doesn’t say a whole lot, his irresistibly goofy actions speak louder than words.

English, while he has his moments, is entertaining enough for the moment. But, unlike Mr. Bean, this isn’t the kind of stuff that will last for generations.

The plot, for what it’s worth, has former M17 agent English called back into service from his exile in an Eastern monastery where he’s been studying (admittedly, a pretty funny bit) since creating chaos in Mozambique.

The agency, riddled with product placement, is now run by Gillian Anderson who teams English with a rookie agent (Daniel Kaluuya) who is waaaay more competent than his partner. Gosh, don’t think we’ve ever stumbled across that joke before.

The Bond movie references pop up so often, they’re like fuel for Johnny English Reborn. No, they don’t necessarily make the film any better, but they are there.

If you’re an Atkinson fan from his Black Adder days, you’ll appreciate the cameo by Tim McInnerny who acts sort of like English’s Q.

Younger audience members won’t get that, obviously, but they’ll probably like everything else about Johnny English Reborn. It’s silly and brisk enough to get a passing grade for a family matinee. But that’s about it.

The comedy is currently playing at Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

–– Jason Armstrong is the longtime film reviewer for The Morning Star.

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