That's how much money "Mr. Bean's Holiday" brought in this year. Can that
many people be wrong? Or am I missing the Bean picture here? Is he really
"Mr. Bean's Holiday" is now available on DVD and HD-DVD.
I first saw Mr. Bean's show by accident sometime in the 1990s. My parents
had watched his show and said that I should watch it. He was funny, they
said. It was on PBS and I remember a Bean gag where he tries to cheat paying
for a ticket in a parking structure. I found him mildly amusing, but a
little creepy and weird. My parents thought he was hilarious, but judging by
the smirk on my face, they knew I didn't find him as funny. Either I read or
heard that Mr. Bean, played by Rowan Atkinson, was extremely popular around
the world. In the States, he was relegated to PBS along with "Masterpiece
Theatre." I must have been in the minority about Bean.
He made a previous feature film in 1997, "Bean." According to Box Office
Mojo, it did respectable business in the States, but made a killing overseas
with a haul of $205,893,247. He's back ten years later with "Mr. Bean's
Holiday." This film apparently is a playful homage to Jacques Tati's "Mr.
Hulot's Holiday" (1953). I never saw Tati's film, so I can't compare Bean to
Hulot. All I know is that Bean's holiday is typical Bean. In my book, either
you love him and what he does, or you don't.
Bean wins a trip to the French Riviera and a camcorder. Naturally, Bean gets
involved with a bunch of trouble and screws up everybody else's day, never
realizing what a troublemaker he can be. He mistakenly separates a boy (Max
Baldry) from his father on a train going to France. Bean takes it upon
himself to reunite them. Along the way, Bean does crazy things like
lip-syncing to an opera to make money in a village square, or steals a man's
The film has an odd mix of pathos and seriousness. Bean always gets into
some sort of mishap. In one disgusting scene, he orders a seafood platter
(not knowing how to speak French). The result will make you drop your
popcorn. Yet in the scenes with the kid, heavy-handed music makes one think
they're watching a European art house flick. Even the cinematography gets
very art house-like, if there is such a term. The film also uses jumpy video
footage shot by Bean and the other characters. On a big screen television,
this gets nauseating.
There isn't much of a story to "Mr. Bean's Holiday." It's mainly a
collection of skits. He doesn't say much, so I'm sure the screenplay read
something like, "Bean hangs from projector booth." Much of the movie is
spoken in French. Bean answers in Spanish. This is truly an international
Willem Dafoe shows up in the film as an avant-garde director who's on his
way to the Cannes Film Festival. He takes the role with tongue-in-cheek and
is actually funny. Too bad the rest of the film wasn't as good as he is.
Atkinson is a good actor in the non-Bean films I've seen him in. He was
memorable as the bumbling priest in "Four Weddings and a Funeral" (1994),
and provided excellent voicing to Zazu in "The Lion King" (1995). As for the
character of Bean, his most popular role, I don't get the schtick. I have
laughed out loud at a few of his gags on his television series. In
particular, he did a funny gag during a Christmas episode involving a manger
scene in a department store. But no matter how hard I've tried, I've mostly
found his character to be obnoxious.
If it's any consolation, my daughter loves Bean. Now in the fourth grade,
she and her friends love his sense of humor. After seeing some of the
episodes at her friend's house, my daughter just had to have the complete
series on DVD and I bought it. We've watched it so many times, I've become
an expert on Bean. It's a totally British series where all the scenes
indoors are shot on videotape, while the outdoor scenes are shot on
film...kind of like "Bennie Hill." The production of "Mr. Bean's Holiday" is
nothing like that. But I could see why she likes the show and movie. The
plots are nearly non-existent and Bean is a silly character. He doesn't say
much and those buggy eyes are bound to make children laugh. His style of
comedy carries well internationally, much as Charlie Chaplin and Mickey
Mouse did many years ago.
Maybe I'm reading much too much into the persona of Bean. Is Bean a
commentary on society or people around the world who may have his quirks? A
guy like him would be certified as a loon or arrested. The guy cheats,
steals and is incredibly rude, even to children and his girlfriend (on the
television series). I certainly wouldn't want to be in the same vicinity as
Bean is simple minded entertainment and easy to watch, even if you don't
care for him. Over 400-million bucks can't be wrong.
Special thanks to Click Communications
Box office figures according to
Photos: © Universal Studios. All rights reserved.
Bean is an acquired taste
Director: Steve Bendelack
Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Willem Dafoe,
Jean Rochefort, Emma De Caunes
Featurettes about "Bean," deleted
Bean fans will
love this movie no matter what
Aspect Ratio (1.85:1)
DVD RELEASE DATE
November 27, 2007