Alan Dee’s movie guide (05.10.11)

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ROWAN Atkinson never looks as if he is enjoying his comedy too much, particularly when he has to gurn and goof as Mr Bean or dash about as a jerk James Bond as Johnny English.

But those expensive sports cars don’t pay for themselves, particularly when he keeps bending them, so it’s time to slip into the stupid secret agent’s shoes for another asinine adventure.

To be fair, he’s been a lot more sparing that others would have been with such successful characters – there have only been two Bean outings on the big screen and with Johnny English Reborn the special needs Smiley – originally based on a character created for a credit card ad, let us not forget – matches that number.

But however much Atkinson and co-stars of the rank of Dominic West and Gillian Anderson try to breathe life into the concept it’s the same old story.

Johnny is recalled from a remote Asian region where he has been brushing up on his martial arts mastery to hunt down a gang of international assassins bent on bumping off the Chinese leader at a summit which is just about to get started.

There are lots of gadgets and goofs, the cast play it straight and there are a few smiles along the way, but it won’t be anyone’s idea of a top secret to say that it’s all a bit limp.

> When a film has a title like Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, you know that you should be looking to keep the lights on if you can.

If you remember a cult film of a similar name from the 1970s, you’re right – this is remake territory largely distinguished by the name of Guillermo del Toro sharing a screenplay credit and Katie Holmes, who made this before featuring as Jackie O in the dull TV saga The Kennedys, continuing to earn a crust now Tom’s films don’t seem to be making all the moolah any more. It’s all about a young girl coming up against creepy surprises when she visits dad Guy Pearce and his new squeeze at the Gothic mansion they are doing up. It’s a workmanlike chiller but never comes close to getting under your skin.

> One thing’s for certain, if you thought the last Woody Allen film was a dull stinker there will be another one along in a minute, and fans will always hail it as a real return to form.

Midnight In Paris follows the familiar path with the veteran director and former funny man setting up shop somewhere cool and European now that he has apparently milked his old Manhattan milieu dry.

Owen Wilson is a hack screenwriter in Paris looking for inspiration, his love life gets complicated, Michael Sheen, Adrien Brody, Kathy Bates and Marion Cotillard and even Carla Bruni pop up. People in the stalls look at each other and say: “This is dull, where are the jokes?” And Woody moves on to his next project...

> If you fancy giving any more money to the Disney machine, there’s a 3D version of The Lion King out this week. No, I don’t know why either.