Dave's Rating:

1.5

On Her Majesty's Stupid Service

In 2003, I saw Johnny English. I know I saw it because I reviewed it for another website I was working for at the time. But I don't remember one minute of it.

I mean, I know that it starred Rowan Atkinson. But I had to consult my review to remember that John Malkovich and Natalie "Torn" Imbruglia were his co-stars and that there was a plot that carried the movie through from beginning to end. That plot was idiotic. But it was a plot.

I have not spent the past eight years wondering if a sequel would be made. Everything about Johnny English The First evaporated from my brain when I punctuated the final sentence of my review. I had to make room in my consciousness for other films. Like Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 and Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector. The interim years were fully booked.

While I spent my days viewing and writing about those more pressing cinematic concerns, the fictional Johnny English -- according to this new film's backstory -- was in Tibet learning how to drag around a giant boulder via a rope attached to his balls. But recently, some new spy stuff needed his attention, so England called Johnny English home and pressed him into service. Jason Statham was busy.

Does it actually matter to you what spy stuff gets done here? Be honest with yourself. You know it doesn't. It's unlikely, really, that if you're genuinely enthusiastic about the existence of this sequel that you're even consulting a film critic to help you weigh your decision in the first place. You are committed to Rowan Atkinson because of Black Adder or Mr. Bean or the other Black Adder shows or the animated Mr. Bean series or because he showed up for three excellent minutes in Love, Actually, which you secretly watch every Christmas.

If that's you, the hardcore Atkinsonite, well then you'll laugh a lot. The Atkinson-phobic, obviously, will never bother. But for you in the middle, people who wander into the wrong house of the multiplex, people accompanying a hardcore Atkinsonite on a pilgrimage, people eventually stumbling across it on television or an airplane, film critics whose job it is to watch everything: you guys will chuckle. And that's it. Just a reasonably steady stream of closed-mouth chuckles over comic incidents designed for that laziest little compartment of your brain, the one that responds with a low-grade huh-huh-huh when the man contorts his already-weird face or gets chased by a screaming little Asian lady wielding a chainsaw or mistakenly beats up a facsimile of Queen Elizabeth II or gets kicked in those balls that he's spent years making strong with Tibetan rock-dragging exercises.

And then you'll forget it ever happened.

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