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Mr. Bean's Holiday
Mr. Bean, man-child, mini-enthusiast and pop-culture icon, first graced British TV screens on January 1, 1990. His television show, simply called Mr. Bean, ran for five years and showed his ability for getting into trouble doing everyday tasks such as going to church and going shopping. It gained a large UK audience pulling in 18.74 million viewers for the 1992 episode The Trouble with Mr. Bean.
What makes Mr. Bean so appealing?
It is the fact that Bean is an incredibly human character, with the same flaws and foibles as everybody else. Most of the disasters he creates are caused because he doesn’t want to offend anyone, doesn’t want to appear an outsider in a world he never fully understands. Audiences can instantly identify with him, even if we are embarrassed by his antics.
Bean became so popular, in fact, that two movies were made of his adventures. The first film (Bean, the Ultimate Disaster Movie) had him travelling to Los Angeles to accompany the portrait of Whistler’s Mother. The movie also starred Peter McNichol, with a cameo by Burt Reynolds. It brought in $250 million globally with a budget of $22 million, so it was a financial success; although the film was criticized for breaking with the program’s tradition of having Mr. Bean as the centre of attention, and for alleged Americanization. In my opinion, this critique is accurate.
Fortunately, the sequel (Mr. Bean’s Holiday) is a very good movie indeed. It deals with what happens when Mr. Bean tries to vacation in the south of France, and ends up going to the Cannes Film Festival, getting hunted by the French police for kidnapping, and raising the ire of a pretentious American film director, played by Willem Dafoe.
Unlike its predecessor it focuses less on teenage angst and family drama and more on pure slapstick. This makes the movie more child-friendly, and brings it closer to the original spirit of the television show. It is also blessedly free of American actors who might otherwise have taken the focus away from the main character.
The movie also stars Max Baldry (Rome), as the young boy Mr. Bean is accused of kidnapping, Emma deCaunes (The Diving Bell and The Butterfly), as the beautiful French actress, Sabine, with whom Mr. Bean travels to the Cannes festival, and Karl Roden (Bourne Supremacy, Rock ‘n Rolla), as Baldry’s father. They all do an excellent job.
However, potential viewers should be aware that Mr. Bean’s Holiday is most certainly a kid’s movie, or for those young-at-heart. Those expecting hipster subtlety or tons of pop-culture references will be sadly disappointed, but if you want a hearty laugh or an embarrassed chuckle, this movie is for you.
Unfortunately Rowan Atkinson, who plays Mr. Bean, has said that this is the last appearance of our rubber faced, socially awkward hero. If this is in fact the case, he will be sorely missed. And, if this is to be Bean’s swan song, it’s a damn good one.
Two thumbs all the way up!