July 18, 2003
Based on a series of television commercials for a British credit card company, Johnny English is a film that Universal Pictures hopes will be the first of a franchise. Like Austin Powers, Johnny English is a spoof of spy movies, in the vein of James Bond. What makes this project unique is that two of the scripters on the project were actually the co-writers of recent Bond flicks The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day.
The happy news is that Rowan Atkinson plays the title character. Atkinson has quite a cult following thanks to his involvement in the terrific Black Adder television series on BBC, and he has even appeared in a Bond movie (Never Say Never Again). In recent years, he’s primarily known for smaller, goofy roles, such as his recent turn as a narcoleptic Italian in Rat Race.
Atkinson also starred in and wrote another BBC series known as Mr. Bean, which was eventually turned into a feature-length film known only as Bean. Though the movie grossed a slight $45 million in North America, it nonetheless managed a staggering $232 million worldwide. The sketch comedy of Mr. Bean was a tough transition for the big screen; it was much better suited to the shorter bursts of the television format.
Looking forward to Johnny English, we already know that audiences clamored for the escapades of a similar character in Austin Powers. Will Atkinson’s creation be viewed as a fresh take on a similar story, or will it be viewed simply as a cheap knock-off? With a budget of $45 million, it’s not a particularly cheap production, but the hope would be that the involvement of the Bond writers, along with a potentially terrific bad guy (John Malkovich), will combine for outstanding results. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Comparison films for Johnny English
|Austin Powers in Goldmember
|Austin Powers II:The Spy Who Shagged Me
|Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams
|Spy Hard *