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BY JACOB ZHIVOV
& DAVID BLUMENSTEIN
April 9, 2003
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When we walked into this film Dave said "it's gonna
be like King Ralph except in a spy scenario." We all had a chuckle
and then got out press notes, we then discovered that indeed this
film follows very much the plot line of King Ralph with a bit of Danger
Mouse thrown in.
I didn't hate this film, it really was dumb funny, it
really required no brain activity for me to enjoy. Rowan Atkinson
is quite a funny comedic actor but the plot of this film really doesn't
allow him to shine like in his TV roles in Black Adder and Mr Bean.
All the good lines go to Ben Miller's character Bough (pronounced
Boff), who's like Danger Mouse's sidekick Penfold.
Overall this film is probably best set for a video release
but take along your little brother or sister they'll probably enjoy
it more than you.
Johnny English: **1/2
It started out like King Ralph (everybody dies, so a
bungler has to take over), but it quickly became something less.
It feels wrong to criticise it, because it's just so
average. It's got some funny faces from Rowan Atkinson, it's got fucking
MALKOVICH, which is always good, and English's assistant Bough is
pretty funny as a sort of monosyllabic Baldrick (or, indeed, Penfold).
But it could have been more, couldn't it? Rowan Atkinson
+ MALKOVICH + the pop queen is pretty funky casting! If this hadn't
been a sort of warmed-over Bond parody with some Mr. Bean-y bits in
it, it could have been something cool. What if Malkovich had been
a really DANGEROUS Frenchie? What if Imbruglia could act above a "Neighbours"
level? What if Rowan Atkinson had some oaf-embarrassed-in-public bits
that were as good as when Mr. Bean was in line to meet the Queen and
his fly was open? I don't know. I don't know. In the press notes,
they're very excited about their claim that "Johnny English"
is the first film to be based on a TV commercial (Atkinson's Barclaycard
ads). I wouldn't be quite so proud.
"Johnny English" is no "Austin Powers:
International Man Of Mystery", it's no "Ali G: Indahouse"
(which rocks, I don't give a fuck what any critic says) and it's no
"King Ralph" (1991) stars John Goodman as
a tubby Vegas lounge singer/pianist who becomes King of England by
default (all the royals die at once, and he's distantly related).
This sets us up for all manner of wacky gregarious-Yank-in-prim-and-proper-England-style
misunderstandings and accidents, which are funny, I think, and generally
hold up well thanks to charming performances by Goodman and O'Toole.
The "everybody dies, so a bungler has to take over"
plot is pretty worn out, but there's always room for another one if
it's done at all well. "King Ralph" had a bit of heart.
It passes. "Ali G" had dope, porn and knob-polishing. It
passes. "Johnny English" has BLACKADDER and MALKOVICH, but
it's still just ehhhh.
When I was 10 I saw "King Ralph" and now twelve
years later I still find it funny. This film as far as I'm concerned
is a cult classic. It took John Goodman from our television screens
and made him the cult actor he is today.
John Goodman is hilarious and lovable as Las Vegas Lounge
singer Ralph who after finding out he is the sole heir to the British
royal crown takes the role to earn some fast cash. Peter O'Toole does
an excellent job as Lord Willingham, the man responsible for taking
an American slob and turning him into a king.
It's funny, amusing, musical and provides us with a
great new way to play darts. King Ralph rocks the Casbah.
Look for the cool rendition of "Good Golly Miss
That said, "King Ralph" is no "Dave".
Kevin Kline is all class.
Stars: Rowan Atkinson, John Malkovich, Ben Miller, Natalie Imbruglia
Release Date: April 10, 2003
Running Time: 90 minutes
Showing: General release
Stars: John Goodman, Peter O'Toole, John Hurt, Camille Coduri
Release Date: it's out
Running Time: 92 mins
Special Features: Bugger all (foreign subtitles, German soundtrack,