Perhaps the most successful sequel to a film based on a credit card advert. While Johnny English Reborn is a film about a bumbling English spy (Rowan Atkinson) that spoofs the British spy genre, it’s a movie made very much with the international audience in mind. To that end, the humour is more Mr Bean than Blackadder. The main plot involving a mind control conspiracy is a complete shambles, designed to move Atkinson between situations and locations where he can mistakenly beat up on old women or accidentally destroy government property. At the age of 56, Atkinson’s ability to play slapstick is still intact. In a scene where Johnny messes about with a hydraulic chair during a meeting with the PM, the bits of physical shtick he pulls off are as good as anything he’s done before. Johnny English Reborn is very broad and not sophisticated in the least, but that makes it almost perfect for uncontroversial family viewing.
Based on a true story, Dolphin Tale follows the growing friendship between Sawyer, a quiet young boy and the dolphin he rescues. Having lost her tail in a fisherman’s trap, Winter the Dolphin is brought to a marine hospital run by Harry Connick Jr and his family. The plot follows Sawyer’s journey as he works to help Winter, roping in the support of prosthetic specialist Morgan Freeman. The seasoned adult cast help to smooth over the saccharine plot and typically hammy performances from the child actors. Freeman’s presence, as always, add an immeasurable amount of gravitas to the movie. But in the end, it’s the feel-good story that will win over even the most stone-hearted of adults.
Based on the story by Roald Dahl, The Witches is a film that has left an indelible mark on the psyche of every child who saw this in the 90s. Luke, a young boy, goes on holiday to Cornwall with his Norwegian grandmother. Once there, he accidentally stumbles onto a conference of witches posing as the RSPCC. Adults will enjoy the Jim Henson-created puppet effects and the bizarre humour that’s brought to life by British auteur Nicolas Roeg (Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth) while children will enjoy the plucky hero and the genuine scares. It can be quite an intense movie at times, but children over 8 will probably be old enough to deal with it and appreciate it. This is highly recommended family viewing!
A sick man touches a handrail in Hong Kong; a Japanese businessman in First class coughs and puts down his plastic glass; a young boy in Minnesota wipes his nose and pushes the door at his primary school. Steven Soderbergh’s newest film features many sequences and incidents as seemingly innocent as these but when the enemy is a virus, every sniffle and wheeze is as ominous as a teenager heading out to the lake alone in a slasher pic.
Contagion makes no secret of being influenced by the recent health scares with Avian Flu and Swine Flu and makes compellingly realistic case for how we as a society would handle such a situation. The all-star cast featuring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard and Kate Winslet put in restrained performances that hammer home the potential reality of this threat. Contagion is a thrilling as any horror film you’re likely to see this year and will have you thinking twice about what you touch next time you’re out on the streets.