King Johnny is not amused.
Hair colour? Johnny English:
Um... (glances at a nearby bowl of fruit)
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"
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
open/close all folders
- 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 in the first movie when Johnny 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).
- 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.
- Chase Scene
- Johnny and Bough attempt to catch Sauvage's Mooks after discovering them attempting to make off with the stolen Crown Jewels
- 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.
- Crowning Moment of Funny: Aside from the near-literal example (shown in the picture), coupled with the Almost Kiss moment above at the end of the film, which is followed by...
- Curse Cut Short: Johnny's "Oh, f—" 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.
- Private Defective: Johnny embodies this.
- 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*
- 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.
Johnny English Reborn
- The Ace: Simon Ambrose. He turns out to be a double agent.
- Acting Unnatural: When Tucker confronts the mole Ambrose at gunpoint in front of Johnny in a washroom, when an unsuspecting old man walks right in. This basically leads to the mole drying his hands, Tucker washing his hands and Johnny taking the same whiz continuously until he leaves.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Johnny asks his guru what happens now he's completed his training. The guru replies that he has been communicating with a higher power — then reveals the phone he used to talk to Johnny's superiors in London.
- Balls of Steel: Johnny after undergoing training at a Tibetan monastery. It proves important later.
- Black Best Friend: Tucker.
- Boring but Practical: How Johnny chases down the Chinese assassin while barely breaking a sweat.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: The bodyguard of the president of Mozambique, and Johnny English himself, under the influence of a mind-control drug. Johnny recovers.
- Cable-Car Action Sequence: At the climax of the movie, Johnny jumps with a snowmobile unto the cable-car where Big Bad Simon Ambrose is trying to flee. Fistycuffs, Groin Attacks and explosion ensue.
- Chase Scene: Johnny chasing the Chinese assassin.
- Chekhov's Skill: In the second movie, Johnny's training in withstanding Groin Attacks comes in handy.
- Combat Pragmatist: Johnny vs. the Chinese assassin. When the assassin does an incredibly complex series of martial art moves, Johnny stomps on a board, which shoots up and hits him in the groin.
- Cool Car: The Rolls-Royce Phantom that is given to Johnny upon his return to MI7. Even cooler — that car is owned by Rowan Atkinson in real life. (Sans rocket launcher, regrettably.)
- Whilst not strictly a car, the wheelchair should probably qualify...
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: In a bit of an inversion, this movie shows Johnny as a very competent secret agent (aside from the occasional update that he missed while training in Tibet for five years, such as who the Prime Minister is or the fact that MI7 is now sponsored by a phone company) with just a few moments of Idiot Ball.
- Cunning Linguist: Johnny speaks eight languages, including Mandarin — the only problem is he doesn't speak it well.
- Cutting the Knot: Johnny, repeatedly. His Tibetan Mentor notes that his advantage in combat is his "wisdom".
- Deadly Dodging: Part of Johnny's effortless curbstomp of a whole group of Chinese assailants.
- Did the Earth Move for You, Too?: At the end of the movie, our hero blows up the villain in a big explosion; his Love Interest sees this and sighs, "Oh, Johnny!"
- Distracted by the Sexy: What happened in Mozambique — Johnny was sharing a jacuzzi with a bikini-clad Honey Trap when the president was assassinated.
- Dragon Their Feet: The cleaning-lady.
- Dungeon Bypass: Johnny uses a series of these to pursue a Parkour assassin without breaking a sweat.
- Evil Old Folks: The killer cleaner woman. She tries to kill Johnny English four times.
- Failure-to-Save Murder: Johnny English is blamed for the murder of Mozambique's president. Of course, he was supposed to be guarding him at the time... But who could have predicted that his own bodyguard would be mind-controlled to assassinate him?
- Five-Bad Band: The villains of the film appear to form one, even though we aren't told much about them.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The motorised wheelchair's highest speed, above 'V.Fast' is abbreviated (blink and you'll miss it) as 'F.Fast'
- Hero Stole My Bike: Johnny in the motorised wheelchair after getting set up by the actual traitor Ambrose, and shot in the leg by MI7, then forced to jack his crippled friend's ride.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: The actual villains of the film have a very straightforward agenda — they accept money in return for killing people. What isn't very clear is why two of the erstwhile heads of said villainous group have changed their minds about it.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Tucker follows Bough in this department, though not all the time. He displays in some scenes more competence then English, such as correctly pointing the right person to English, only for English to go to the wrong person; identifying the bulletproof umbrella as actually being a rocket launcher, and figuring out that Ambrose was the double agent. But in other scenes, he's even more incompetent than English. Talking on the phone to his mum, and not noticing that a sniper was meters away from him, about to kill their only lead, multiple times letting a enemy agent simply run past him before calling to English, rather then try and stop the agent himself.
- Legacy Character: Pegasus. While this movie provides a Gender Flip for the character, both Pegasuses have the same function in both movies.
- Simon Ambrose is designated as #1, which was an agent that died in the first movie, which might make him one as well.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Upon proving that Death Is Cheap, Johnny takes the whole Took a Level in Badass trope and pushes it to the extreme, proving his true potential.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Twice.
- When Johnny tries to bluff his way into a golf game with one of the antagonists.
- And Ambrose trying to bluff his way out of being exposed as a traitor.
- Mistaken Identity: Johnny English mistakes Pegasus' mother and the Queen of England for an assassin. Hilarity Ensues.
- The Mole: Simon Ambrose.
- Mood Whiplash: Johnny starts dancing to Cameo's Word Up right in the middle of assassinating the Chinese PM.
- My Greatest Failure: Johnny's face undergoes complex spasms every time the screw-up in Mozambique is mentioned.
- Oh, Crap: Johnny has one when he realizes he just drank a glass of alcohol laced with the mind-controlling drugs.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Johnny is initially crippled when he gets shot by the MI7 agents in the church, forcing him to hijack Patch's wheelchair. One scene later, he's running around with no apparent disability.
- Product Placement: MI: 7 is run by Toshiba and extensive branding is seen throughout HQ and even on Johnny's parachute. This is a Take That against the British government's continued privatization on national services.
- Protagonist Title
- Recurring Element: An old Chinese lady assassin who disguises herself as a cleaning lady kills the main members of the terrorist group Vortex. Aside from the attacks on Johnny and Vortex, she is also noticeable for one more little detail: Johnny ends up attacking other old women who he thinks is the assassin. This includes Pegasus' mother and the freaking Queen! And with a serving tray no less!
- Rewind, Replay, Repeat: Kate checks CCTV footage recorded before an assassination, revealing an important clue.
- Spoiler Title: This movie features Johnny cheating death after accidentally drinking the mind-control device that kills its victims. In the process, he is "reborn" by a kiss from Kate.
- Super Wheelchair: Patch's.
- Took a Level in Badass: Johnny. The training with Tibetan monks paid off rather well.
- Trash Landing: Johnny escapes Kate's apartment through the garbage chute, and predictably lands in the dumpster. He picks a dirty diaper off his head.
- Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Everyone in this movie fights pragmatically.
- Twitchy Eye: Whenever Mozambique is mentioned.
- Under the Truck: Johnny pulls one off on a motorised wheelchair.
- We Named the Monkey Jack: Pegasus' cat is named Philby, presumably as a Take That against Kim Philby who was one member of the group of double agents known as the Cambridge Five.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Patch Quartermain (Tim McInnerny, Rowan Atkinson's Blackadder co-star) disappears after his wheelchair is stolen.