Roger: Hair colour?
—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.
- The Ace: Agent One. Unfortunately he is killed thanks to an oversight on Johnny's part.
- 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.
- 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 is yanked out of a plane by his parachute just as he's about to kiss the girl.
- The Apprentice: At least, Johnny likes to think of Bough as his apprentice, showing off tricks or techniques in an attempt to impress him and be a role model for him. Often ends with hilarity.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Johnny gets accidentally crowned King of England after pushing Sauvage out of the way. He then orders Sauvage (who apparently Goes Mad From the Revelation) 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 wakes up from being sedated and 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.
- Character Title
- 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!"
- Chekhov's Skill: In the second movie, Johnny's training in withstanding Groin Attacks comes in handy.
- Commander Contrarian: Pegasus spends a good portion of the movie dismissing Johnny's insistent claims that Sauvage is behind the plot.
- 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.
- Da Chief: Pegasus
- Dartboard of Hate: Johnny uses one with a picture of Pascal Sauvage after being demoted.
- Distracted by the Sexy: What happened in Mozambique -- Johnny was sharing a jacuzzi with a bikini-clad Honey Trap when the president was assassinated.
- 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.
- 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.
- Fake Nationality
- In the first movie we have an American as a Frenchman (John Malkovich) and an Australian as an English damsel (Natalie Imbruglia).
- Feigning Intelligence: Johnny does this the entire movie, especially to impress Bough and Lorna.
- The Fool / Idiot Hero
- 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.
- Groin Attack
- How Lorna finally takes out Sauvage's sniper henchman at the climax of the first movie.
- See Balls of Steel for the sequel.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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. It was real.
- Private Defective: Johnny embodies this.
- Right Behind Me: "Allow me to introduce myself. 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. There are some pretty serious plot holes, like "How would stolen crown jewels help Sauvage get crowned king?" or "Wouldn't a fake Archbishop of Canterbury be discovered really quickly?" But they're both necessary as setups to some pretty hilarious jokes.
- 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*
- 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.
- Actor Allusion: Simon Ambrose turning out to be a traitor will not be a surprise to fans of 300.
- Awesome Yet Practical: When Johnny English chases after a Chinese assassin. The moves he uses are hilarious.
- His opponent climbs over a fence. Johnny opens the door.
- His opponent climbs over an obstacle using flashy jumps. Johnny uses a ladder.
- His opponent jumps across a gap and onto a building. Johnny uses a crane carrying a load of bricks to send himself across.
- His opponent scales scaffolding to get down. Johnny uses the lift.
- 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.
- Casting Gag: Rosamund Pike actually was in a James Bond movie (Die Another Day).
- So was Rowan Atkinson, if an unofficail one (Never Say Never Again).
- Chase Scene: Johnny chasing the Chinese assassin.
- 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)
- 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.
- Darker and Edgier: People actually die, the stakes are higher, and while there is still comedy, the whole backdrop gives it that serious feeling.
- Well actually, even the first one had deaths in it if you include all the agents except English dying in an explosion offscreen at the beginning. This one is barely more serious as it pretty much features comedy throughout the entire film.
- 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!"
- Evil Old Folks: The killer cleaner woman. She tries to kill Johnny English thrice.
- "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?
- Fake Nationality: Johnny, already distressed at seeing MI7 outsourced to Toshiba, might have flipped if he knew his superior was played by an American (Gillian Anderson).
- 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.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Edmund Blackadder steals a wheelchair from Lord Percy.
- 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.
- 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.
- Oh Crap: Johnny has one when he realizes he just drank a glass of wine laced with the mind-controlling drugs.
- 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.
- Took a Level in Badass: Johnny. The training with Tibetan monks paid off rather well.
- 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.