Film: Johnny English

King Johnny is not amused.

Roger: Hair colour?
Johnny English: Um... (glances at a nearby bowl of fruit)
Pegasus: Orange?
Johnny English: Mmm. And curly. Well, frizzy, actually. Frizzy sort of thing.
Roger: Frizzy.
Johnny English: An eye patch. Broken nose. Very few teeth. Two, I would say the most. And a scar on his cheek in the shape... (glances at the fruit again) ...of a banana.
Roger: Which cheek?
Johnny English: Both cheeks. They sort of met in the middle.
— Describing the "thief"

Johnny English is a film about the eponymous Clueless Detective-style Idiot Hero and his semi-Butt Monkey Hypercompetent Sidekick Bough and their adventures working for MI7. They form a unique team similar to the Straight Man and Wise Guy, only with levels of competence instead of seriousness. Oftentimes Johnny's juggling act with the Idiot Ball gets Bough, himself, or both of them, into troublesome or injurious situations, causing hilarity or reality to ensue.

The movie is considered an Affectionate Parody of the spy movie genre, oftentimes hanging lampshades on several popular spy tropes, from Disposable Love Interest characters to the protagonist being an overwhelmingly confident and suave badass. It features a hearty plateful of the Rule of Funny, a nice smattering of slapstick, at least a gallon jug's worth of Genre Savvy, and even a light pinch of Self-Deprecation. And Rowan Atkinson.

The plot is mainly focused around Johnny's attempts at rescuing Britain from the evil schemes of Corrupt Corporate Executive Big Bad Pascal Sauvage. Sauvage has set in motion a complex plan, starting with the assassinations of all the spies in Britain with a bomb planted at a funeral. Fortunately, Johnny was a safe distance away, so now he finds himself promoted from a cheap low level agent to Designated Hero!

Johnny soon finds himself drawn into Sauvage's scheme and vows to try and stop it, though he doesn't necessarily end up achieving a huge amount in the end via his own personal effort alone.

A sequel, Johnny English Reborn, was released in 2011.

The idea for the movie came from Atkinson's Barclaycard commercials from the 1990's about the misadventures of a (slightly) more competent, somewhat smug agent Richard Latham who scoffed at his Hypercompetent Sidekick Boff when the latter invariably solved each problem using his Barclaycard. About the only thing it has in common with the movies is that both characters worked for the fictional MI7 and are played by Rowan Atkinson. You can watch them here.

For similar spy parody movie, see The Pink Panther. For a few with slightly more risque flavor, see Spy Hard and Austin Powers. For a more World War II flavored alternative, see Top Secret.


  • Accidental Truth: Sort of. While Johnny is lying when he describes the assailant who stole the crown jewels, a man identical to his ridiculous description is shown to exist.
  • The Ace: Agent One. Unfortunately he is killed thanks to an oversight on Johnny's part.
  • Action Girl: Lorna Campbell
  • The Aloner: Johnny after he is kicked off the investigation for awhile and spends time at home, moping about his failures and sinking into a pit of depression.
  • Almost Kiss: A hilarious one when Johnny accidentally hits off his passenger seat ejector button just as he's about to kiss the girl sat in it.
  • The Apprentice: Johnny likes to try impressing Bough, his assistant, showing off tricks or techniques in an attempt to impress him and be a role model for him. Often ends with hilarity.
  • Artistic License Law + Artistic License History: With respect to the (albeit unwritten) Constitution and the power of the Crown. In Real Life, you could not get the Queen to abdicate with the stroke of a pen note  and whilst the bit where all land in the country is technically the possession of the Crown and can be confiscated at will needs clarificationnote  the monarch has very little personal power which is de facto exercised by their government. It also ignores historical precedent concerning what happens to monarchs who try to exercise too much personal power. Of course all of this is (thankfully?) ignored in favour of Rule of Funny and a good story (see below).
    • There's also the notion that Mr Sauvage only becomes King Pascal at the moment the crown touches his head, when actually (assuming that Elizabeth II's abdication and Pascal's claim to the throne are recognised), he would be monarch as soon as the abdication form was signed. The coronation is just a ceremony.
    • Furthermore, in real life a coronation takes more than a year to organise, rather than just days as this film suggests. Also, it seems unlikely that a monarch would be allowed to quietly slip away to a castle in France so soon before getting crowned. [note]It is traditional for the monarch to spend the night before in the Speaker's appartment of the Palace of Westminster[/note]
    • Oh, and throughout the film, various characters consistently refer to "England" rather than "Britain". In particular they talk of Sauvage being "King of England" even though that title was abolished in 1707.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Johnny gets accidentally crowned King of England after pushing Sauvage out of the way. He then orders Sauvage (who had gone mad with anger at the persistence of "this stupid little country" and its bumbling secret agents) to be arrested.
  • Beard of Sorrow: The stubble kicks in fast when Johnny is suspended from duty.
  • Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: The title character accidentally injects himself with muscle relaxant but quickly insists on carrying out his mission infiltrating a posh soiree despite not having fully regained muscle control.
  • Brick Joke: After the credits, there's a scene of Lorna falling into a pool after being ejected from Johnny's car, with a man sitting by the poolside reading a newspaper. The man drops the newspaper to reveal that he is the man Johnny "created" earlier in the movie as an assailant.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: "As far as I'm concerned, the only thing the French should be allowed to host is an invasion!"
  • Commander Contrarian: Pegasus spends a good portion of the movie dismissing Johnny's insistent claims that Sauvage is behind the plot.
  • Coffin Contraband: Henchmen smuggle away the Crown Jewels in a coffin, and drive off in a hearse to complete the illusion. Of course, Johnny gives chase but gets lost and ends up following a real hearse, leading to him tactlessly interrupting a funeral to investigate the coffin.
  • Cool Car: The tricked out spy car that Johnny and Bough drive during the chase scene actually comes armed with a miniature Rocket Launcher... which would have gotten towed had Johnny and Bough not been able to commandeer the tow truck to chase down the mooks (see Chase Scene entry above). The rocket launcher comes in handy when a traffic camera takes a picture of the car (still suspended from the crane arm on the tow truck, incidentally) running a red light, and Johnny promptly blows up the camera.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Johnny occasionally has flashes of skill and competence between his long stints with the Idiot Ball.
  • Curse Cut Short: Johnny's "Oh, f—" after the Almost Kiss above, right before cutting to black.
  • Da Chief: Pegasus
  • Dartboard of Hate: Johnny uses one with a picture of Pascal Sauvage after being demoted.
  • Death Glare: Sauvage gives one to Johnny at the end after Johnny knocks Sauvage off the throne and ends up being crowned himself..
  • The Door Slams You: Happens twice to Johnny in the first movie.
  • Dumb Is Good: Johnny only ever falters in his noble pursuits to save Britain when he gets scolded by his bosses for his screwups. Sauvage never manages to fully intimidate or corrupt him.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Attempted by Johnny, but it fails due to Unfortunate Item Swap with the DVDs.
  • The Evil Prince: Sauvage's family used to have a legitimate, if distant, claim to the British throne, which he views as taken from him unfairly.
  • Expy: Johnny is an Expy of a character Atkinson played in a series of Barclaycard adverts during the 1990s. The character of Bough was retained from the ads, but played by a different actor.
  • Failed a Spot Check: A lot of Johnny's incompetency is linked with this trope. Like not noticing the gaping hole in the middle of the crown jewel room and concluding that if there was one way the thieves couldn't have come from, it was the floor, just before nearly falling in.
  • Fake Action Prologue: English is right at the bottom of the secret agent ladder at first, but dreams of being a veritable James Bond in the beginning.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Johnny does this the entire movie, especially to impress Bough and Lorna.
  • The Fool / Idiot Hero
  • Foreshadowing: Johnny's line to Sauvage: "My bottom will be King of England before you are."
  • French Jerk: Sauvage's thick accent reminds one of this in every scene he appears in.
  • Funny Background Event
    • Johnny accidentally paralyzes a secretary, and talks to her unaware boss while she's being taken out of his office, and Johnny, of course, can see everything and does everything possible to make the guy not turn around. When next we see her, she's in a wheelchair, and pauses to glare at him.
    • The sequel uses this as well, except replace "tranquilizing your boss's secretary" with nearly killing your boss's cat.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: After Johnny's security clearance is revoked.
  • Groin Attack
    • How Lorna finally takes out Sauvage's sniper henchman at the climax of the first movie.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick
    • Poor Bough embodies this trope, with a little smattering of Butt Monkey.
  • Idiot Ball: Johnny seems to be the exclusive carrier, though sometimes other characters take turns.
    • Johnny's boss is the absolute King of the Idiot Ball, simply disregarding every single legitimate suspicious indication that Suavage is the bad guy, even when everything that has happened so far just happened to lead to his coronation as King of England.
  • I Meant to Do That: He covers up his bungles with one of these more than once.
  • In Harm's Way / Fearless Fool: At several points in the movie Johnny brags about being fearless in the face of danger, and acts on these boasts a fair few times as well.
  • Instant Sedation: That is one fast-acting knockout dart pen. Then again, it is implied to have hit her in the spine.
  • Invisible President: The Queen's face is never shown.
  • Johnny McCoolname: Guess who?
  • Latex Perfection: Sauvage's Plan A involved creating a fake Archbishop of Canterbury to crown him king using a very fancy looking mask.
  • Living Crashpad: The title character falls on his flunky while investigating the hole in the floor of the crown jewel room.
  • Mickey Mousing
  • Mistaken for Servant: Pascal Sauvage is mistaken for one.
  • Mundangerous: Forget being shot by the Big Bad or a Mook, Johnny hurts himself with sheer clumsiness more than his foes manage to hurt him.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: "May all your daughters be born with three bottoms." (Bilingual Bonus: the actual translation is "born with tiny penises", though.)
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Johnny had made a fool of himself and didn't have the incriminating DVD. While Johnny's coronation is legitimately the result of his own fight to reveal the truth, the police would have been much less inclined to listen to his demand if Sauvage had just stayed calm instead of waving a gun around and screaming insults about the United Kingdom.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: Lorna Campbell is played by Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia, who was mostly unknown as an actress aside from a stint in Neighbours.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Johnny briefly pretends (thanks to the quick thinking of Bough) to have escaped from a mental asylum after interrupting a funeral thinking that the crown jewels were in the coffin.
  • Poison Ring: Johnny confuses his "sleeping draught" ring with his "truth serum" ring. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Private Defective: Johnny embodies this.
  • Redshirt: Agent One.
  • Redshirt Army: All the agents attending Agent One's funeral. Important because had they not been blown up, Johnny would never have got put on the case.
  • Right Behind Me: "Sorry, can I help?" "Pascal Sauvage, jumped-up Frenchman."
    • The sequel has a Right in Front of Me when Johnny fails to recognise the Prime Minister who's seated right next to him. When the PM politely points out his error, Johnny sarcastically comments, "Yeah, right. In your dreams!" A deleted scene has him mistaking Pegasus for his old friends' Sexy Secretary.
  • Rule of Funny: Both movies are essentially fueled by this. The plot of the first film, for instance, essentially relies on a pretty exaggerated version of the power of the monarchy.
  • Running Gag: Johnny's gun giving out on him in increasingly creative ways.
  • Stealth Pun: The string music (a cover of the main theme) in the scene at Pascal's building? Provided by the string quartet Bond.
  • Toilet Humor: Johnny infiltrating Sauvage's castle via a primitive sewer line... and the result.
  • Tempting Fate: "You are now entering the most secure place in the whole of England." *Cue explosion*
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: Johnny and Bough attempt to catch Sauvage's Mooks after discovering them attempting to make off with the stolen Crown Jewels. Johnny's car ends up being picked up by a tow truck, so he and Bough use the truck to give chase. Though eventually, Johnny feels the truck is too slow and gets back into the car on the back of the truck.
  • Unfortunate Item Swap: Playing the DVD on which Sauvage explains his Evil Plan at the coronation would have been a great way to expose him... unfortunately, the DVDs get mixed up, and the guests are instead treated to Johnny dancing half-naked to "Does Your Mother Know".
  • The Unintelligible: Johnny after he accidentally injects himself with muscle relaxant and his facial muscles slowly stop responding. The villain, similarly injected with the relaxant, manages to understand what he is saying. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Sauvage stays cool when Johnny interrupts his coronation, knowing that he has no evidence against him. When he swings down and gets the crown away from him, he pulls a gun.
  • X Meets Y: James Bond meets Mr. Bean, or perhaps Blackadder meets The Thin Blue Line.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Sauvage manages to alter his Evil Plan halfway through in an attempt to accommodate Johnny's meddling. He fails.