Perhaps the most unnecessary and least asked for sequel in the history of motion pictures, Universal have just dropped a trailer for Johnny English Reborn, due in theatres September 16th (US) and October 7th (UK). Yes that’s right – Universal – who decided last month that it really wasn’t worth funding Guillermo Del Toro’s At The Mountains of Madness despite a clear audience hunger for it but they somehow found some cash underneath the sofa-bed last year to greenlight this act of desperation. I mean just how far down the list of possible franchise revivals to make a quick-buck must Johnny English have been?
Was there really a thunderous demand for this because I certainly didn’t see one if there was. Released in 2003, the more slapstick than action comedy flopped in the states ($28 million on a $40 million budget) but admittedly did well internationally ($160 million worldwide total) where the bumbling Rowan Atkinson has some legit star power and us Brits especially were always going to be more welcoming to a James Bond spoof.
But times have changed, a lot has happened in the eight years since Johnny English. For one, Pierce Brosnan is no longer James Bond but Johnny English Reborn doesn’t live up to it’s title and recognise this. It is still so blatantly spoofing the 007 of an era ago and the whole routine just feels tired. Austin Powers was always the sharper and funnier of the modern day 007 spoofs but Atkinson’s English feels as out-dated as a parody of the Spice Girls or something else 90′s based, would. Or what a fourth Austin Powers movie would, for that matter. We’ve moved on from this.
It would be like releasing Scary Movie in 2011, instead of in the post-Scream, Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Valentine era. It just feels awkward and doesn’t work.
It probably doesn’t help either that Rosamund Pike is the love interest as her most notable screen role to date was as the Bond girl from the last Brosnan era picture, itself an almost parody of the series with Die Another Day.
And the whole problem with English is that unlike Austin Powers, he isn’t even a unique character or has anything that defines him. Watch the opening and you tell me which character Atkinson is playing here. Isn’t it Mr. Bean, not Johnny English. Who even is Johnny English, does he have any characteristics?
Out of all the characters Rowan Atkinson seems happy to regurgitate, why does he keep choosing the ones that are the so worn out? What fiendish and cunning plan do we need to come up with to see him do a new Blackadder series or hey… what about a new character?
Johnny English Reborn opens in the U.K. in October. It’s directed by Brit hack-for-hire Oliver Parker (St. Trinian’s, Dorian Gray).
This article was first posted on April 7, 2011