âJohnny English — Rebornâ (PG) ****
Rowan Atkinson and Eugene Levy have one important thing in common: Whenever they appear on screen, you start to chuckle. Eugene Levy is not in this sequel to the 2003 âJohnny English,â but Atkinson provides enough guffaws for the both of them. Anyone in an Atkinson film, whether this franchise or his Mr. Bean series, is of necessity a supporting player, but this film has a superb cast, making Atkinson, as Johnny, even more hysterically funny.
Johnny is a James Bond clone, and the entire film rips off Bondisms: snowmobiles, cable cars over snowy chasms, beautiful women, fancy equipment (a Rolls named âRoyceâ rather than an Astin Martin), and even a souped-up wheelchair that gets a lot of screen time. Everything Johnny touches goes over the top, so when you see him touch something new, just wait for the bizarre events to follow.
Gillian Anderson is âPegasus,â the head of MI7, but she is upstaged by Rosamund Pike, an actresss so luminous that she seems to carry her own light with her. Pike was last seen as the wife in âThe Big Year.â Here she is a psychologist.
The kids in the audience were giggling, their parents were hooting at the sight gags, puns, shtick and general nonsense. It isnât necessary to know the Bond films well to enjoy this send-up of them, but it helps. One can only hope itâs not eight more years before English finds another assignment.
âIn Timeâ (PG-13) ***
The premise: life is measured precisely in 25-year increments. That is, you start at some time in our life with 25 years. Everything you do, eat, travel on or pay for with cash is now paid for by a little glowing readout on your forearm that tells you how much time you have left. To pay for anything, you insert your arm in a cuff-reader that deducts the price. When the clock hits 00:00:00, pffft — thatâs it. You drop dead.
Justin Timberlake as Will Salas, lives day by day in Dayton, the time zone for the poor. Amanda Seyfried, as Sylvia Weis, lives with Daddy, who runs the whole time operation — âWeis-TimeLenderâ — is definitely not ghetto like Will! (It is a bit disconcerting to see Sylvia, her mother and grandmother, who all look like they are the same age and all bootilicious.)
Will and Sylvia are the Good Guys. The Bad Guys are the âMinute Men,â roving gangs of thugs who steal other peopleâs time at gunpoint and The Time Keeper and his minions who regulate everything so that the ghetto doesnât get to Greenwich.
When both the Time Keeper (the very spooky Cillian Murphy) and the Minute Men start after Will and Sylvia, the chase scenes multiply, Sylvia shows more leg and even wider eyes (in a Wide Eye Contest, who would win: Seyfried or Mila Kunis?) while Timberlake keeps exercising martial arts skills we donât realize he has until he shows them.
The suspense level is cranked up secondarily by wondering how much time each of the participants has on their glowing arms. Olivia Wilde, as Willâs mother, (fancy that!) has a short arm as do other players who keep falling into the concrete valleys of the Los Angeles River as the buzzer sounds.
In the meantime, Will and Sylvia raid Daddyâs Time Bank — why not? Thatâs where the hours are, and they turn into Robin Hoods, giving months to the poor.
Ultimately, this is intended as a philosophical metaphor based on the question of whether or not immortal life is good for the human species or not, regardless of the fact that everybody thinks they want to be immortal. I donât think this movie will change your mind on that question, but it will be good for at least one after-show snack and coffee.
âThe Rum Diaryâ (R) **
I have always found the diary of drunks, especially if written while drunk, to be tedious, self-absorbed and ultimately boring. So it is with this film, inspired by a Hunter Thompson novel, discovered by Johnny Depp in the late â80s and published in the â90s.
The novel has been described as âautobiography disguised as fiction,â and the movie feels that way as well. Paul Kemp (Depp) is a novelist faking it as a reporter who gets a job for a struggling San Juan, Puerto Rico, newspaper. Richard Jenkins is its harried editor, Lotterman, whose main concern is keeping the paper afloat and keeping his wig on. He also has some of the most biting of the many biting lines in the film.
The other prime bits of acid are tossed about by an hysterically over the top Giovanni Ribisi as Moburg, a perilously hard-drinking Nazi sympathizer who somehow has a job with the paper. Michael Rispoli, of many bit parts in crime series, serves as Deppâs partner in nonsense, Sala.
The funniest scene in a film that should have had more of them, consists of Kemp sitting on Salaâs lap in the back seat of a decrepit Mini Minor, or whatâs left of it. Thugs have removed the front seat, windows and most of the rest of the car. Kemp drives while sitting, in effect, in the back seat. Funny, but maybe too long a scene for real humor.
Amber Heard, another anonymous-looking blond most recently seen briefly on the canceled âPlayboy Club,â changes clothes, flirts and otherwise passes unscathed through the nothing role of Chenault, made remarkable only by her sudden transition to what appears to be a twelve-year old in the final scenes.
The plot turns soupy, maudlin and trite in the last third, and it wasnât much for the other two thirds. The era of Gonzo journalism that Thompson made popular is gone. This film certainly wonât bring it back.