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Johnny English

Year: 2003
Director: Peter Howitt
Writer: Robert Wade/Neal Purvis
Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Natalie Imbruglia, John Malkovich
What looked like it was just going to be another lame Hollywood comedy turned out to be more full of genuine laughs than most others so far this year.

When the entire elite squad of Britain's foreign agents are killed, low level security analyst Johnny English (Atkinson) is the last hope to protect the crown jewels from thieves and the country from a megalomaniac French businessman, Sauvage (Malkovich).

Trouble is, he's a complete idiot with no idea what he's doing. Parachuting into the wrong building, getting his Aston Martin full of gadgets impounded for being in a no parking zone and his gun always falling apart at the critical moment is only the beginning. He misses every obvious cue, gets himself into unbelievable trouble he has to then cover up, and makes everything around him and everyone near him go wrong.

The embarrassing situations are cranked up to levels of cringing glee and no opportunity is missed for the English to take the piss out of everything, including themselves and their own pomposity - proof enough that it was written by Englishmen and not Americans.

It also makes you realise that - despite being known for his dolt Mr Bean character, Rowan Atkinson is an accomplished actor with effective control over his expressions and movements that change his character despite such a recognisable face. And as always, John Malkovich proves he's among the masters, even in such a lightweight comedy.

A rarity - a 'Hollywood' movie with clean, straight, mature comedy, not the sort they write for ten year olds that you can see a mile away.

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