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Johnny English

Rowan Atkinson, Natalie Imbruglia, Ben Miller, John Malkovich

india Updated: Jun 07, 2003 21:13 IST
** and 1/2
** and 1/2

It is not easy spoofing the greatest spy in screen history anymore. On two grounds.

First, the idea itself – of a caricatured James Bond – has been done to death, first by Leslie Nielsen (The Naked Gun series and Spy Hard) and more recently by Mike Myers (the Austin Powers films). Secondly, when you’ve made your mark the world over as Mr Bean on television, the public actually doesn’t care if you’re out to retrieve Her Majesty’s crown jewels or if you get to kiss the sexy Natalie Imbruglia on screen.

The second must have been a more pressing problem for Rowan Atkinson, one of Britain’s best known comedians, whom the viewer would any day prefer seeing dish out some new jokes rather than doing a funny take on Connery/Brosnan/Moore.

Full marks to Atkinson and director Peter Howitt (who earlier made the delectable comedy Sliding Doors, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah) for managing to sustain viewer interest till the end. Johnny English isn’t comedy that lingers on in your mind till long after. Rather, the jokes stay on as long as they are being played on screen and give you that jolly kick as long as they last.

The plot: When all of MI 5’s best agents are killed in an explosion, the British investigation agency is left with no choice but to put the inept Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) on the case to solve the mystery of the thief who stole the crown jewels from the Tower of London.

Accompanied by his able assistant Bough (Ben Miller), Johnny bungles his way through one slip-up after another, to finally solve the mystery. Somewhere down the line he’ll also meet the gorgeous Lorna Campbell (Natalie Imbruglia, in her first ever starring big screen role), who is actually an Interpol agent who helps him solve the case.

If you are an Atkinson fan, Johnny English is bound to be a treat for you. Else, just drop your inhibitions to laugh at silly jokes and enjoy the 88-minute romp that unfolds on the screen.

First Published: Jun 07, 2003 13:15 IST