MR. BEAN’S HOLIDAY: 2 STARS FOR MR. BEAN FANS 0 STARS FOR BEAN’S SEVENTH LEVEL OF HELL WELL WISHERS
You either love the monosyllabic Mr. Bean or want to see him banished to the seventh level of Hell where constant pain will be his reward for all the idiocy he has loosed upon the world.
There is no middle ground.
Since 1990 Rowan Atkinson’s annoying man-child spread the kind of absurdity that makes Jerry Lewis look like a master of subtly in fourteen BBC produced television episodes, an animated series and one 1997 movie.
He’s back in a new adventure, and this time he wins a trip to Cannes in the south of France. He brings a video camera along to document his trip, and it is that camera that triggers a series of events that will see him be accused of kidnapping a young boy, meet a beautiful woman (named Sabine. If they got marries she’d be Sabine Bean. Get it?), blow up a film set, and become the toast of the Cannes film festival. It’s a long and strange journey. At one point, I kid you not, a chicken makes off with his bus ticket.
That’s right, a chicken. Even the livestock are out to get him.
There’s something old fashioned about the humor of Mr. Bean. Either he’s paying tribute to the silent movie slapstick comedians of yore, or he’s a comedic recycler of epic proportions. There’s very little dialogue, (which would explain the enormous international success of the franchise) it’s mostly just grunts and mumbled words, so Bean must rely on physical farce to get his point across. The physical stuff can occasionally raise a smile, but I felt I had seen much of it before, and usually done better. The estate of Buster Keaton should perhaps be looking into copyright infringement.
It’s hard to be rough on old Mr. Bean because I guess the movies are aimed at kids, so you shouldn’t really expect edgy, interesting comedy, but I had to wonder at the appropriateness of some of the set pieces wedged in between the sight gags. Do kids really need to see a man commit suicide by jumping off a bridge after Bean has been rude to him on the phone? Is the sight of Mr. Bean dressed as a Nazi goose-stepping and Sieg Heiling meant to crack up an eight year old? At those moments the youngster sitting next to me said, “Why is he doing that?” to his dad. The dad didn’t have an answer and neither do I.
I’m not exactly sure who the audience for Mr. Bean’s Holiday is, but I am quite sure it won’t win many new fans, although I think it should keep the old ones content.