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Movie Review

Johnny English Reborn

MPAA Rating: PG for mild action violence, rude humor, some language and brief sensuality.

Reviewed by: Gretchen LeAnne Young
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Family Adults
Genre:
Comedy Sequel
Length:
1 hr. 41 min.
Year of Release:
2011
USA Release:
October 21, 2011 (wide—1,500+ theaters)
DVD: February 28, 2012
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

spies in the Bible

Sequel to: Johnny English (2003)

Featuring: Rowan Atkinson … Johnny English
Dominic West … Simon Ambrose
Gillian Anderson … MI7 Agent Pamela Head
Rosamund PikeKate Sumner
Daniel Kaluuya … Tucker
more »
Director: Oliver Parker
Producer: Universal Pictures
Relativity Media
Studio Canal
Working Title Films
Rowan Atkinson … executive producer
more »
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“A little intelligence goes a long way”

This film proved to be relatively clean and slap-stick humorous, with an overall moral message so obscure, I almost had to make it up. It begins several years after the first “Johnny English” movie finished, with Johnny English training at a Buddhist monastery in Tibet, after his renowned mission failure in Mozambique which leads Johnny into a humorous eye-twitching spasm every time Mozambique is mentioned. Then he is suddenly reinstated by British spy agency MI7 for a new mission—he must stop a team of assassins before they kill the Chinese premier. Knowing his country is in his need, Johnny’s confidence returns full force as he cluelessly solves the case in a similar way to the first movie.

Having seen the first movie, I walked into the movie theatre expecting something similar: a hilarious spoof of a spy movie without a real moral message and where God is not really a factor. And I was right. That said, one wouldn’t go into a theatre playing Johnny English (or any Rowan Atkinson film) for spiritual encouragement and character challenging. More likely, one would go for a light-hearted laugh at some simple slap-stick comedy, which Rowan Atkinson as usual pulls off. Still, Johnny English portrays throughout the film the moral character traits of loyalty, patriotism and justice in a classic good versus evil scenario. Despite its simple and clichéd plotline, and the fact that Rowan Atkinson is really the only actor driving the comedy, the film doesn’t fail to make its audience laugh.

Positives aside, there are certain objectionable areas that I felt were unnecessary, but most of which would likely soar right over children’s heads. Use of bad language was minimal, with Johnny English moaning “God” in one scene and another character declaring “Oh, dear G_d” in another.

Sexual content and nudity are nonexistent, though there are unnecessary implications. At the beginning of the film, during a training montage at the Buddhist monastery, Johnny English must learn to endure pain by dragging rocks of increasing size and weight that are tied to his private parts. Despite the unnecessary implication, there is no nudity. In another scene, Johnny English has a flashback to the before-mentioned failure in Mozambique, where a beautiful and busty woman distracts him by stripping down to a skimpy bikini and they end up sharing a hot tub and champagne together.

In a later scene, a random man enters during a standoff between Johnny English, his sidekick Tucker and MI7 agent Simon Ambrose in the men’s room. Ambrose pretends he is drying his hands, Tucker pretends he is washing his, and English pretends he is using the urinal. The man proceeds to use a urinal during the awkward silence and. while there is no nudity, the audience can hear the sound of his urine. As soon as he leaves, the standoff continues, but suddenly Johnny also has to urinate.

Violence is minimal in the film, and where it is present, it is the slap-stick kind of violence with no blood, gore or even injury (though a lot of crotch-kicking). One example is where Johnny mistakes both the head of MI7’s (Pegasus) mother and the Queen of England for an elderly Chinese assassin woman who appears throughout the film disguised as a cleaner. In both instances, Johnny chases down the woman mistaken for the assassin, puts her in a headlock and hits her over the head multiple times with a metal platter before realizing he has the wrong woman. Despite this display of violence, there is no blood or bruising or injury of any sort. It is rather intended for humor, and Pegasus’ mother gets up no more than a little dizzy and hits Johnny back with the same platter.

Basically, if you have seen the first Johnny English movie, you can expect something similar, with slightly less plot line, but also less offensive content. It’s an overall safe movie to take young teens to, as they will love all the classic slap-stick humor of Rowan Atkinson. Johnny English’s character traits of loyalty, determination and patriotism are also emphasized in his endeavor to serve his country and for right to conquer over wrong. However, take the film as just an opportunity to laugh, and not as a character challenge or intellectual stimulant.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This film is more pedestrian than the first, but is not as offensive. There is still coarse humor. But a lot of the humor is of the understated, wry British sort. I wonder whether it will travel “across the pond”. Whilst I do not think that it is a film for children, there are many worse films adolescents could watch. There is not much in the way of nudity or sex. There is coarse language. There is much that is of this world, but there is nothing which is directed against religion, albeit there is a “showdown” in a cathedral.

Forty years ago, it would have been a passable spy film and not merely a comedy. It owes a lot to the original “Manchurian Candidate” and to that genre of spy films exemplified by “Where the Spies Are,” and the Dean Martin/Matt Helm films. Given that British cinema is usually little short of disgusting, this is a fine British popular film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—B.P., age 53 (Australia)
Positive—A very funny movie, although it unfortunately contains a few scenes which some may find offensive. Rowan Atkinson is brilliant, as usual, and a great supporting cast combine to make the movie hilarious. A good storyline and it certainly holds your interest and entertains. The offensive scenes are centered on the male anatomy, and I feel could have been deleted without affecting the film’s quality or appeal. The only reason I wouldn’t give this a 10 out of 10 is for these infrequent scenes.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Liz P, age 49 (Australia)
Positive—This was better then expected, it was pretty funny, if you like his kind of humor. It was very clean with no sexual innuendos and NO cussing. That was awesome; it was so clean, and it actually has a good plot. It’s hard to find a clean, slapstick funny movie these days, and it was one of those.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Samantha, age 37 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—Somewhat better than the first one, mildly offensive to some, but it’ hard to find anything these days that’s secular that’s free from any sexual inuendo. I would say its OK to take your boys to.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Tony, age 54 (New Zealand)
Neutral—While this “Johnny…” was better than the one that came before it, I still only found it halfway amusing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Negative
Negative—First, I have to state that I enjoy much of Rowan Atkinson’s work. I lived in Britain in the 90s and had more of a chance than most Americans to see and appreciate his humor (look on YouTube for his drummer routine).

That said, if we look at the movie with an eye on whether it would please God, then I believe this movie missed the mark. I was disappointed in the use of God’s name during the movie, although it was not as often as many movies, it was still used. I also would never want any teen-aged young man to see the sexual innuendo, particularly the woman who strips to a revealing bikini. The images simply are not appropriate, and can only lead to lustful thoughts.

Although the movie had wildly hilarious parts, and Mr. Atkinson’s physical comedy is still top-notch, I would have to withhold any recommendation based on content.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Casey, age 46 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—Very funny! It is very entertaining and enjoyable, I would recommend it to anyone! The film was really funny and had some parts that still make me laugh now! However, the only bad parts were there were a few parts where the actors/actresses blasphemed—not good—and a LOT of jokes concerning men’s genitals. The jokes were not needed, but, apart from that, I would definitely watch it again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Anna, age 14 (United Kingdom)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I put this movie in and skimmed it (hit the super fast forward) to sample it, and see if it was something our family was going to watch. All Christians should realize the implications of blasphemy right off. The movie is called “Reborn”. Truly being “Reborn” happens only when someone get’s saved by Jesus Christ. This movie mocks that by starting off implying that Johnny has received some sort of enlightenment from an anti-Christ religion. Spiritual discernment warns that the movie is oppressed and oppressive. It’s void, and gives the viewer a worldly feeling of godlessness. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Speaker, age 30 (USA)

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