It’s been ten years since we’ve see the lanky, haphazard character of Mr. Bean on the big screen. Considering the overwhelming success of the first film, it seems odd that the filmmakers waited so long to make another.
However, Rowan Atkinson fans can rest assured now that Mr. Bean is back, and he’s taking on the whole of France in the film Mr. Bean’s Holiday. Some might say the French had it coming.
In this latest installment of the franchise, Mr. Bean (Atkinson) wins a trip to the South of France in his church lotto. He packs up and heads down south by train. However, through a series of mishaps, Mr. Bean loses his way, loses his passport and loses his money. What results is one of the most bizarre road movies you’ll see in a while.
Along the way, Mr. Bean befriends a young boy separated from his father at a train station and a beautiful young French actress who is heading down to Cannes to see the premiere of her new film. Fans of the character will get everything they’re expecting with this film, including plenty of slapstick physical humor, and still funny with the G rating, no less.
Now I’m not going to be one of those stuffy responsible types who drones on and on about how important it is to have good, clean, G-rated fun. I’m no dummy. I know that Disney, Nickelodeon and a dozen other producers will continue to crank out content aimed directly at younger viewers.
Instead, what I appreciated about the wholesomeness (for lack of a better word) of Mr. Bean’s Holiday is that it didn’t seem forced. This wasn’t a film that went out of the gate trying to be a family film. It just did what was funny. After all, the original Bean garnered a PG-13 rating for mildly raunchy humor.
It’s not that Mr. Bean’s Holiday tried to avoid this kind of humor. It was just unnecessary to tell the story. And what we ended up with was a hilarious film that the whole family can enjoy.
If you’re like me, you’ve known who Mr. Bean is long before Bean took the world by storm in 1997. Of course, you have to be a fan of British humor to enjoy this character. It’s not exactly part of the American mainstream. However, considering that Mr. Bean’s Holiday has grossed almost $200 million so far overseas, for this time, us Americans are somewhat irrelevant to the film’s success.
The key to a good comedy is to have something in it for everyone. I took my young children to see Mr. Bean’s Holiday, and they loved it. Of course, they found themselves drawn to the slapstick and Rowan Atkinson’s funny faces. I liked those elements too, but I found myself laughing most at jokes that went completely over the kids’ heads.
The funniest part for me was Willem Dafoe’s character, a pretentious international film director. The ego-driven film-within-a-film It’s Playback Time nailed the unflinching narcissistic nature of independent film.
Ultimately, if you don’t like Mr. Bean, you won’t like this film. But fans will laugh themselves silly.
THE UPSIDE: It’s great to see Rowan Atkinson return to the big screen with one of his funniest characters yet.
THE DOWNSIDE: The G-rating is warranted, but I’d like to see more dirty jokes.
ON THE SIDE: If you liked Rowan Atkinson, you might want to check out his series Black Adder from the BBC. Very different from Mr. Bean, but equally as funny.