Mr. Bean's Holiday
Some comedies are satirical, making a serious point using humor. Others expound upon a central theme deriving the laughs from the situations and characters. Others are just plain silly. Here the humor comes from someone acting like a fool. Now if an American actor tries this the results are usually horrible. Just watch any Paulie Shore flick and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Now if a British actor engages in a foolish flick it is funny. It would appear that across the pond they have taken over dominance in the field of slap-stick humor. Monty Python never made sense but we still laugh at the antics. Another British import that can be depended on to give the audience a good time is the Mr. Bean series. Rowan Atkinson has taken this character to international fame. True, Bean is, to put it bluntly, an absolute idiot. Watching him get into the most improbable situations is a guilty pleasure around the world. Having grown up with the Three Stooges and the likes of ‘Abbot and Costello’ there is a tradition with physical humor that Bean continues. The latest of the series is ‘Mr. Bean’s Holiday’ and while admittedly not the best of the Bean flicks it is a family friendly good time. This is a film that needs you to completely suspend belief but fortunately it makes the job very easy. Don’t worry about little things like plot or reality; just sit back and enjoy the ride.
The silliness starts off right away as Mr. Bean parks his car and uses a dead bolt and pad lock to secure it. He is off to a church fund raiser where prizes are to be auctioned off. The winning number is 919; Bean looks at his ticket, 616 and tosses it away only to realize he had it upside down. He gets it back and claims first prize, a vacation on the French Rivera, a new camcorder and £200 pocket money. Bean sets off on his adventure documenting every possible moment with his new toy. Even the simple, every day function like buying a cup of coffee becomes a bit here. Bean spills the coffee on the laptop computer of a sleeping man. With his tongue sticking out like a naughty boy Bean tries to pour the coffee out of the computer and back in his cup making sure to scrape the foam off the keyboard. He has to change trains in Paris where a vending machine manages to bet the best of our lamentable hero and he misses his connection. With an hour to kill he stops off at a restaurant were he mistakenly orders the largest plate of seafood imaginable. Before finally boarding the train he asks a man, Emil Dachevsky (Karel Roden), a Russian judge at the Cannes Film Festival, to shoot him getting on. Bean, thinking he is a major director demands numerous re-takes to the point the train is pulling out. The doors close on Dachevsky preventing him from boarding leaving his young son Stepan (Max Baldry) on the train and in the dubious care of Bean. The boy is told to get off at the next stop to wait for his father. Bean, feeling responsible also gets off and winds up missing the train again. The father’s train does not make this stop so Bean and the boy have to catch another train. Unfortunately Bean has misplaced his wallet and passport resulting in them getting kicked off. He tries his hand at mime to raise money for a bus ticket, gets the ticket and loses it when it gets caught on the foot of a rouge chicken. The unlikely pair starts hitchhiking and get picked up by an aspiring actress, Sabine (Emma de Caunes). She is going to Cannes so it looks like it will work out for them. They wind up at the festival where Bean interferes with a film to be presented. The director, Carson Clay (Willem Dafoe) is forced to use Bean’s video in place of his own.
In order to get the most from this film you really have to be into physical comedy. There are no real jokes to be found anywhere here, just one bizarre moment after another. In many ways this is like an extended sketch comedy show loosely bound together with the journey. Director Steve Bendelack comes from a television background but deports himself well here. For a physical comedy it is difficult to keep the pace moving along but he does it well. At times the flick is repetitious but considering the genre that is acceptable. After all we still laugh when Moe hits Larry and Curly time after time. This is mostly targeted to the true blue fans of the Bean character. Others may find it pedantic and over done. Physical comedy is an art and Atkinson has honed his skill albeit he does tend to use the same sight gags a lot.
Speaking of Rowan Atkinson he is a very talented comedian. While he doesn’t get to speak a lot in the Bean series he has demonstrated a quick and agile wit in series like Blackadder. In this film he uses the Bean character well but not as effectively as in previous outings. He does have the perfect face for this brand of comedy. With is rubbery face and extra large ears he can use his facial expressions and body language to get a laugh. The only problem with his performance here is the character is better suited for a television episode than a feature length film. What is hysterical for thirty minutes can get tiring when it pushes ninety.
Universal does provide its typical excellent DVD release here. The anamorphic 1.85:1 video is well balanced with a true to life color palette. The Dolby 5.1 audio is over kill, the rear speakers and sub woofer don’t have a lot to do other than provide some ambience. There is also a good measure of extras provided in this release. There are some fifteen deleted scenes that were better left on the cutting room floor. ‘French Beans’ has the Atkinson, the director and other crew members recant their filming experience in France. Since Bean did not know French it made a perfect chance to make the character almost silent, a characteristic of Bean. ‘Bean in Cannes’ details what it took to film the movie while the actual film festival was in full swing. Finally ‘Human Bean’ gets the reaction of the other actors on their work with the famous character. This is not the best slap-stick comedy around but it is something well worth while for the whole family to enjoy.