Film / Johnny English
Pegasus: English, we can't afford any mistakes. Not tonight.
English: The word "mistake", Sir, is not one that appears in my dictionary.
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 clarification,note the monarch has very little actual 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 and Parliament has given consent. 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
- 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.
- In any case, even were Elizabeth to abdicate, Prince Charles would be next in line. If she were to renounce the throne for her descendants as well, the next in line would be David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley.note
- 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.
- 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. Ends up subverted because Sauvage realized someone would see it through and try to unmask the fake, so he just uses a lookalike instead.
- 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.
- Oh Crap!: Johnny while climbing up the pipe and seeing a wave of faeces coming down towards him.
- Poison Ring: Johnny confuses his "sleeping draught" ring with his "truth serum" ring. Hilarity Ensues.
- Private Defective: Johnny embodies this.
- Red Shirt: 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.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Sauvage manages to alter his Evil Plan halfway through in an attempt to accommodate Johnny's meddling. He fails.