the studio gate

the backlot

the screening room
The Screening Room

$224,045,400. Worldwide.

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 that funny?

"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 bike.

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 movie.

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 him.

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.     

Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Box office figures according to www.boxofficemojo.com

Photos: Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

Quick Glimpse


Bean is an acquired taste

Director: Steve Bendelack

Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Willem Dafoe, Jean Rochefort, Emma De Caunes


Featurettes about "Bean," deleted scenes



Picture: Good
Sound: Good

Bean fans will love this movie no matter what

Aspect Ratio (1.85:1)

Dolby Digital 5.1

November 27, 2007