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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
English returns with a script so poor it could take on Little Fockers;
but time pauses for Atkinson; the jelly bean afloat this melting pot of
Johnny English 2 is sure to be appreciated in the same way any bad movie would be. The necessary untangling of plot and character disasters; the needing to discover just what was so unfailingly bad. The difference for this disaster is that none of this matters; because no one: the distributors; general public; even Atkinson himself, are bothered.
Decades on and greying, Rowan Atkinson has lost none of the pizazz which has graced him his position as pallbearer of the British comedy Crown. The film is entirely his, a tour-de- force-Atkinson; his expression fuelled actions as strong as ever as he effortlessly glides over a faulty picture. From these ends, the film needs nothing more than the main man to satisfy in a recurrent way.
The largest laughs come from he most minimal of skits, for instance an 'MI7' scene in which English loses control of his chair; and is frantically driven skyward and down again, all the while discussing his internationally important mission. It is the simplicity of character-driven foolishness which still works in 2011; as we focus on the actor himself; not English nor Bean, nor Blackadder; and with this prior acceptance, the movie is an enjoyable watch.
There isn't enough simple humour. Forays into the world of the Bond movies are frequent; English's destruction of a cable car clearly mirrors the 'Jaws' scene in Moonraker, which provides for little satisfaction: there are no silly faces here; just standardised CGI with little heart.
Sometimes, too, these bombastic dealings with action rub off on the comedy, which is miscast, overblown and awkward far too often to forgive. A recurring instance with an elder assassin inevitably makes way for some hearty ageism; as English headlocks and tackles his supposed culprit to the floor, (the wrong one, obviously). The scene is difficult to watch; too believable and thus digs at a sensibility far removed from the comic.
Although purely providing as set-ups for English's varying discrepancies, the supporting cast are strong, including Gillian Anderson, who plays well a character who lacks any definitive edge. The 'exterior' efforts are all worthy in setting up the main man's parades.
Despite a lacking of genuine laughs then, the movie is satisfying due to its' indulgent qualities; much like visiting a batty relative in the countryside; Atkinson's song and dance is appreciated as a British Institution rather than an addition of filmic value.
"Driving Lessons" sees two middle class quintessential British families
meet head on, when Grint's character comes into contact with Evee,
(Walters), a slightly deranged out-of-touch actress with an ego. Grint
betrays his overpowering, and over-Christian mother, (Linney), and goes
off travelling with Evee to Scotland, to accompany her on a trip to
participate in a Poetry reading, something she claims could be her
last, due to an illness.
Grint's portrayal of a caged youngster, brainwashed by an overbearing, and even hypocritical mother, is the masterpiece of this film. His portrayal of a downtrodden teen in search of his true morals, and happiness, is captivating to watch unfold throughout. The film is sharply shot, and well paced, with very few moments leaving you tired, an achievement, particularly considering the nature of the plot. Walters really grabs hold of her character with both hands, and successfully brings the audience to her side of things, emphasising Linney's ironic immorality throughout. Her role in "Driving Lessons" is enjoyable and memorable in every sense.
The plot develops nicely, leaving the audience cheering on Grint as he chases back to Evee's place during his lunch break during his stint at a local bookshop to apologise for his wrongdoings. The values in the piece are continued and brought out thoroughly up until the final drag, in a very consistent way. The overbearing, (and relieving), main idea being that religion doesn't lead to happiness, and certainly doesn't lead to morality.
The audience are left sympathising with the radical but lovable Evee, with her and Grint making an irresistible partnership on the big screen, transferred directly from their debut in the "Harry Potter" series. Charismatic and beautiful acting together with a tight and fact paced script make this a must-see this Christmas.