Mr. Beans Holiday
G
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +3

Rowan Atkinson, Emma de Caunes and Willem Dafoe. Comedy. Written by Hamish McColl and Robin Driscoll. Directed by Steve Bendelack.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Rowan Atkinson returns to the iconic role that made him an international star in Mr. Beans Holiday. In his latest misadventure, Mr. Beanthe nearly wordless misfit who seems to be followed by a trail of pratfalls and hijinksgoes on holiday to the French Riviera. But his trip doesnt go as smoothly as he had hoped when the bumbling Bean falls face first into a series of mishaps and fortunate coincidences, far-fetched enough to make his own avant-garde film. Wrongly thought to be a kidnapper due to communication difficulties, he has some serious explaining to do after wreaking chaos across the French countryside and arriving at his vacation spot with a Russian filmmakers precocious son and an aspiring actress in tow.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Though Atkinsons Mr. Bean has often been compared to Charlie Chaplins Little Tramp, for me the character, with his muttered, incoherent speech and weird demeanor, has always come across like a creepy version of Jerry Lewis. His central gag is that while his misadventures cause havoc, he remains oblivious to his error-prone deeds. When he does notice the caused confusion, he seems uncaring with the result. But it is a style hes managed to build into a lengthy career, like Paul Reubens did with his Pee-wee Herman. Those in America unfamiliar with Atkinsons shtick sometimes wonder if the character is supposed to be mentally challenged. Indeed, a lady sitting next to me at the press screening asked, Is he retarded? No, hes English, was my reply. My attempt at humor seemed to further confuse her, as if the malady was a characteristic of the British, much like the erroneous idea that they all have bad teeth.

The paper-thin plot has Mr. Bean attaining a winning raffle ticket for a trip to the beach at Cannes. Even before the number is called, his bad luck begins, letting the audience know that this is supposed to be a slapstick comedy, something not to be taken seriously. He loses his passport, causes people to miss their train, dumps uneaten oysters into a womans purse, inadvertently destroys a filmmakers set, and pursues a chicken whose claw has attached itself to his train ticket.

At first I was put off with the bizarre nature of the lead character, and the audience seemed unsure of the comics ability to amuse for an hour and a half. I thought it strange that the filmmakers injected a boy into the storyline, in which the seemingly unstable Bean would have to perform a great deal of buffoonery. But quickly it becomes clear that Mr. Bean is a protector of the child. Realizing hes no threat to kids, we are then able to enjoy their antics together. And once the beautiful Emma de Caunes is introduced, we also realize that Bean is much taken with the opposite sex (though sexuality in the film is dealt with delicately, assuring a G rating).

Its a mixed bag, incorporating a leisurely pacing with Wile E. Coyote temperament. Though the comic has incredible timing and an awkward athleticism that allows him to behave like a cartoon, some of his routines seemed tired, overdone, while others just seemed eerie. For instance, at one point he dumps raw oysters into a ladys purse, and then runs away before his horrified victim discovers her cell phone covered with the seafood. Another visual gag is extremely dark in nature as Bean keeps dialing phone numbers, attempting to locate the boys father. One such call results in a suicidal man jumping from a bridge. Its played for laughs. The audience thought it was funny. It wasnt funny.

That said, most of the film seems to have a child-like quality, even a sweet-spirited agenda. Eventually the audience and I warmed to both the silly character and the even sillier story. The film has been a winner in Europe. Now we shall see how Mr. Bean enjoys his holiday in the States.

DVD Alternative: The Party. Peter Sellers stars as a good-hearted bumbler who accidentally destroys a movie set, and then manages to do the same to a fancy party given by the films producer. There are a few risqu moments, but it is pretty tame by todays standards. And extremely funny and good-natured. Sellers is terrific. This one is more for adults than Mr. Beans Holiday, but far funnier.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Universal

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Several slapstick situations, but most of the action is cartoonish and without malice. The one major exception is a suicidal man seen jumping off a bridge. We do not learn if he dies from the fall.
Sexual Intercourse: A couple of minor sight gags, but no graphic sexual situations.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: Though nothing is to be taken seriously, the lead is seen borrowing things that dont belong to him. Invariably, they are destroyed because of his actions.
Running Time: 88 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

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