Share this article

print logo

'English' full of physical comedy

"Johnny English Reborn" (PG): It's been so long since the 2003 "Johnny English" (PG) appeared, starring Rowan Atkinson as a bumbling British spy, that "Johnny English Reborn" feels quite new and original. Often hilarious, and never less than giggle-worthy, barring a brief slow patch in the second half, this James Bond spoof ought to entertain kids 12 and older. They'll delight in its inspired physical comedy and goofiness, even if the international intrigue part of the plot escapes them.

From his ridiculous mistakes and misunderstandings, to his lucky triumphs, to the little-old-lady-assassin who keeps trying to kill him, the movie is a riot. Atkinson's silent battle with the up-and-down control on an office chair is gaspingly funny.

The movie contains some PG-13-ish crude humor and much slapstick mayhem with guns, martial arts and crotch kicks.

***

"The Mighty Macs" (G): Girls 12 and older, especially those who participate in team sports, may find inspiration in this somewhat pedestrian docudrama about the basketball team at Immaculata College, an all-girl Catholic school in Philadelphia, circa 1971. The college is nearly broke and in danger of closing its doors. That is when Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino), a former high school and college player, lands a job coaching Immaculata's struggling basketball team. They don't even have a real gym in which to practice. Cathy's new husband, NBA referee Ed Rush (David Boreanaz), has no patience for her career at first -- he wants her to quit work and start a family. But she's determined to make a success of the team. The mother superior (Ellen Burstyn) has other troubles on her mind, but a novice nun (Marley Shelton) becomes Cathy's assistant coach. Cathy drills the team to near collapse, but they start to gel into a unit and win. Soon all the nuns on the faculty and other students are cheering at their games -- all the way to the championship. The film's emphasis on respect for girls' sports and how hard-won that respect was 40 years ago is a worthwhile bit of history.

Some of the exercises Cathy has the girls do are a little dangerous, such as sidestepping through a watery culvert at night. The dialogue includes no strong language, but there is a brief, mild moment of sexual innuendo when Cathy brings in a few college boys to play against the girls and force them to step up their game.

***

"The Big Year" (PG): "The Big Year" is OK for kids 10 and older, but its low-key humor is geared more to teens and adults. Yet even they are likely to lose patience with this awkwardly constructed film, which contains the kernel of a sweet little comedy but buries it beneath multiple tiresome subplots. Three grown men obsessed with birding -- serious bird watchers call their avocation "birding" -- find themselves in harried competition over doing a "big year." Some birders compete over the course of a calendar year to spot more species than anyone else. Steve Martin plays Stu, a happily married millionaire who longs to leave his business and do a "big year."

"The Big Year" includes very occasional mild profanity and epithets, plus a crude hand gesture also involving a "bird."

There are no comments - be the first to comment