Mr. Bean's Holiday
Either you like Rowan
Atkinson's long-running role of Mr. Bean or you don't. Some people
consider Bean to be a masterpiece of slapstick humor (isn't that an oxymoron?)
while others consider him to be arguably the most annoying character in
In fact, I saw
this screening with my sister -- a Bean neophyte who was lured to the film by the
promise of beautiful French scenery -- and at one point she turned to me and
asked me if the character is supposed to be mentally challenged.
Though I don't believe he
is, it's not an unreasonable question.
Rowan Atkinson's man-child
characterization puts the simple into the word simpleton. He is a one
man wrecking crew, creating havoc everywhere he goes while tripping over
every obstacle which life puts in his way. It is almost a mime
performance. Bean grunts a lot and makes odd noises, but almost never
forms a complete sentence. Occasionally he will talk, in a
gruff voice which is always a shock for such a childish character.
Still, the original British
series of Mr. Bean became a smash hit when it debuted in 1990 on the
BBC and later crossed the pond to become a PBS pledge-drive favorite.
In 1997 they brought Bean to the US and the multiplexes with Bean
(which played Bean off of slow-burn specialist Peter MacNicol as an American
art museum curator), but the film was a popular and critical failure.
Amazingly Bean was a
character which was created by Atkinson with wonderfully smart and literate
British screenwriter Richard Curtis (of Four Weddings and a Funeral,
Notting Hill and Love Actually fame). Though Curtis did
contribute to the last Bean movie, he has wisely jumped ship here.
Of course, a decade on from
the movie Bean and even longer since the British TV series, one has
to wonder who has really been waiting for this follow-up on the character --
with the possible exception of Atkinson's accountant.
However, here the film is
in theaters (though I'd guess if you blink you will miss it in the
multiplexes). So the question has to be, is there any reason to see
Mr. Bean's Holiday
is very loosely based on Jacques Tati's classic French comedy Les
Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (Mr. Hulot's
Holiday) -- although that is in the same way that Amanda Bynes'
She's the Man was based on Shakespeare's The Twelfth Night. A
vaguely similar storyline and title does not constitute a remake.
The story -- what little
there is here -- has Bean winning a contest for an all-expenses paid train
trip to the south of France and then wreaking havoc on the entire country as
he misses the train and tries vainly to get to the beach. He inadvertently (Bean does
everything inadvertently) separates a cute young boy (Max Baldry) from
his father and Bean tries in his ineffectual way to get the kid to Cannes to
Along the way he meets a
beautiful French wannabe actress (Emma de Caunes) who is shockingly tolerant
of this odd, grunting man and a pretentiously artistic American
writer/director/actor (Willem Dafoe). You have to wonder how real
actors -- like Dafoe, de Caunes and legendary French actor Jean Rochefort,
who has a nothing role as a maitre d' -- ever got dragged into this
There are several real laughs
strewn around Mr. Bean's Holiday -- many of them provided by Dafoe's
self-centered film director -- and my sister was glad to find that the scenery is, indeed, stunning
(though too much of it was hard to see because it was supposed to be filmed by Bean with a shaky video
It is also, shockingly, one of the only G-rated films in recent memory which
is not made for kids, though kids quite probably would find Bean's
simpleton shtick funnier than adults.
Mr. Bean's Holiday
isn't even as funny as Bean was. Still, if you are a fan
and you really have
to see this, just wait the few weeks before it inevitably comes out on
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: August 25, 2007.