Reviewed by: Gretchen LeAnne Young
Spies in the Bible
|Featuring:||Rowan Atkinson … Johnny English
Dominic West … Simon Ambrose
Gillian Anderson … MI7 Agent Pamela Head
Rosamund Pike … Kate Sumner
Daniel Kaluuya … Tucker
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Working Title Films
Rowan Atkinson … executive producer
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“A little intelligence goes a long way”
Prequel: Johnny English (2003)
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.