Johnny English Strikes Again

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Johnny English Strikes Again Movie Poster Image
Spy comedy misses the mark; loads of action violence.
  • PG
  • 2018
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
Positive Role Models & Representations

Johnny has the best of intentions, though he makes many mistakes. Bough is a loyal friend who always has Johnny's back; Bough's wife is a Navy captain of a nuclear submarine. 

Violence

Bloodless violence intended to be comical. Characters carry, aim guns at people; at one point, villain fires gun repeatedly at someone but doesn't strike him. In video game simulation, animated person is shot to death by machine gun. Elderly woman in wheelchair kicked into oncoming traffic. Tour guide dropped from top of double-decker bus. Several "good guys" killed with explosives. Characters frequently knocked out by being hit on the head. A man is hit repeatedly with a shoe. A nuclear missile is fired. Restaurant full of people unintentionally set on fire. Tear gas missile fired at bicyclists; implication is that it's OK because their nationality is annoying. A character repeatedly tries to kill another character, including with poison and piano wire. Someone is struck by rotating helicopter blades but isn't hurt. Children are given deadly spy weapons. Any positive outcomes are a stroke of luck.

Sex

A man is attracted to a "Bond girl"-type character who's smart, strong, skilled, wears snug, low-cut dresses. A man's backside is exposed for several seconds, which is meant to make the audience laugh. 

Language

One use each of "ass," "bollocks," "dammit," "hell," and "shut up." "God" and "Jesus Christ" frequently used as exclamations. Put-downs include "idiot," "ignoramus," and "imbecile."

Consumerism

Aston Martin and BMW i3 cars are strongly highlighted by demonstrating their performance accompanied by compliments. Other vehicles seen include Range Rover and Hyundai. Also seen or mentioned: BBC News, Hotel Magnifique, Côte du Roc, iPad, iPhone, Mont Blanc, Starbucks, Temple Run game, Twitter, Instagram, and Uber.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several scenes take place in a bar where drinks are flowing, including characters ordering cocktails by listing alcoholic ingredients. A world leader drinks wine and vodka as a way to deal with stress. Characters celebrate with champagne. Background characters frequently drink champagne and wine. Children learning how to be spies hold empty martini glasses. Johnny is wired after taking "energy" pills, and a couple of characters reference using pills to fall asleep.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Johnny English Strikes Again is the third slapstick spoof starring British comedian Rowan Atkinson as a bumbling spy (the title comes from The Pink Panther Strikes Again, and Johnny English is in the same vein as that series' Inspector Clouseau). Taking a note from the most recent James Bond films, the plot revolves around an aging English agent who's brought back into Her Majesty's Secret Service but prefers his "old school" methods to modern tech, some of which may leave younger kids lost. Guns are carried, aimed, and fired at people, although English is told that "we don't really do guns anymore" and must sign a liability waiver before being issued one. Most of the movie's (bloodless) death and destruction is actually unleashed by English's ineptitude, for which he never expresses remorse; it's played for laughs, but plenty of people are injured and killed. Former "Bond girl" Olga Kurylenko plays a similar role here and (un)dresses the part, but there's no 007-style hanky-panky here -- just brace yourself for an eyeful of Atkinson's bare bottom in a nonsexual situation. Drinking cocktails/champagne and popping pills to sleep or for an energy boost are presented as a way of life. Product placement is pretty obvious, with vehicles shown to be tech gadgets in their own right. Language includes infrequent use of words including "ass," "bollocks," "dammit," "hell," etc.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySadaf H. November 1, 2018

A bit of nudity

The only problem in the movie is there is non-frontal nudity due to which the age rating goes up. If just that one scene was altered or deleted, this movie is a... Continue reading
Adult Written byIgorNY November 3, 2018

Laughed from start to end!

Laughed from start to end!
Teen, 13 years old Written byGladergirl250 October 29, 2018

So Funny

Really good and super funny
Kid, 11 years old November 6, 2018

What's the story?

In JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN, after hackers expose the identities of every spy in the U.K., the British Prime Minister (Emma Thompson) calls accidental agent Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) out of retirement. Along with his sidekick, Bough (Ben Miller), Johnny uses every gadget and trick up his sleeve to try to catch the hackers. But will the gadgets of the past be able to conquer the tech of the future?

Is it any good?

Atkinson's rubber face and slapstick comedy usually hit young audiences squarely in the funny bone, but this spy spoof is more like a kick to the shin. Johnny English Strikes Again relies on what's becoming an all-too-familiar cliché: middle-age characters who can't adapt to the latest advances in technology, leading to an old-school vs. innovation showdown. But kids may not be able to grasp some of the plot points because they aren't familiar enough with either retro issues (like the severity of nukes being launched) or nuances of newer technologies (like computer server locations). 

"Bumbling" humor is often a favorite of young audiences because they feel superior to the character, and that works when Johnny is misfiring with devices they know, like iPhones and virtual reality goggles. But he unwittingly creates chaos wherever he goes, and some of the "so wrong" comedy is too wrong, and it ends up feeling distasteful -- like when Johnny unknowingly shoves an 82-year-old woman in a wheelchair into oncoming traffic. Atkinson's hallmark facial and body contortions when he eats something spicy or dances ridiculously no longer feel fresh in today's comedy market, and Johnny English as a whole comes off as dated and humorless as a nuclear missile.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how comedy can affect the impact of media violence. How do you think Johnny English's violence would have affected you if it wasn't portrayed with humor? 

  • Do you think any of the movie's spy gadgets and technologies could work in real life? Are there any older tools/technologies that you think work just fine, if not better than what we have now? 

  • How do Johnny English and Bough demonstrate teamwork? Does teamwork have to be an equal relationship to succeed?

  • What kind of character is Johnny English? Is he a hero? Is he an underdog?

Movie details

For kids who love comedies and spy movies

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