Johnny English Reborn
Directed by: Oliver Parker
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Dominic West, Gillian Anderson, Rosamund Pike
When I was around 12 years old, I was obsessed with the humour of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker (ZAZ), the trio of producers responsible (collaboratively and sometimes individually) for Top Secret!, The Naked Gun and Hot Shots.
While all those movies were regular viewing, some of my most vivid memories involve Airplane!, especially Airplane 2 (which wasn't actually a ZAZ film): my friend David and I would spend weekends watching and re-watching a video-taped copy which we'd dubbed from television. Though it wasn't produced by ZAZ, it was still reliant on their style of humour - slapstick, sight gags, and twisted comedy.
The two of us would be in stitches, laughing as Julie Hagerty exclaims "Simon's turned to jelly!" and the camera cuts to a pile of jelly wearing a pilot uniform, cracking up when Robert Hays claims to have overcome a drinking problem before clumsily throwing a glass of orange juice into his face, and giggling as an airport information desk clerk fields questions about the fastest land animal on earth and whether one should fake an orgasm.
Sure, we were 12 years old and didn't know what an orgasm was, but we knew an airport information desk clerk wasn't supposed to be answering those sorts of questions.
My point is this: those films - whether created by Zucker Abrahams Zucker or merely derived from their style - rely on simple humour that can appeal to all ages and, as you get older, the jokes are more commonly greeted by groans.
I'm telling you all of this to explain how bad Johnny English Reborn was.
While it tries to cash in on Rowan Atkinson's fondness for physical comedy, this film is a poor impersonation of the slapstick comedy stylings ZAZ made famous in the 1980s and early 1990s. To be honest, I couldn't even muster a half-hearted groan for any of the gags here. It was an entirely unfunny comedy experience.
Johnny English Reborn might be the worst film I've seen in the past year, and I don't say that lightly.
Special Features include: none
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