Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mr. Bean Cannes: "Mr. Bean's Holiday" (2007)



Rowan Atkinson breaks out his best-known character for one final hurrah.

Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) is a British nebbish with a funny voice and mannerisms. He is hard to describe, unless you have seen Atkinson's many television incarnations of the character, and the fun "Bean" film from a few years ago. He gets in harmless trouble, and is actually kind of endearing in a sympathetic way.

Bean wins a raffle for a trip to Cannes and the beaches there, and a video camera to record his trip. Of course, the trip is far from ordinary. Through his own cluelessness, he is saddled with a young Russian boy (Max Baldry) who is also headed to Cannes to meet up with his father Emil (Karel Roden), a Cannes Film Festival jury member. Bean and the boy team up to earn money and complete the trip, and Bean falls in like-like at the first sight of struggling actress Sabine (Emma de Caunes...and Bean's ga-ga reaction is perfectly understandable). Toss in Willem Dafoe as ego-maniacal film director Carson Clay, and this bizarre G-rated adventure plows ahead full steam.

"Mr. Bean's Holiday" is not laugh-out-loud schtick. I found myself smiling through most of it. The character of Bean is so loopy, even when things finally work out for him, you await the next complication- whether it be forgetfulness, or a runaway chicken. Bean does get frustrated at what life deals him, and his rare rants and fits about something that has happened are funny to watch, but then he recovers and moves on to his goal.

Bendelack's direction is assured, and keeps up with Atkinson really well. The screenplay moves along very quickly. There are expected set-pieces where Atkinson can work his audience, but they don't drag like they sometimes did on the television series. Bendelack, and screenwriters Hamish McColl and Robin Driscoll seem to know right when to get out, and on to the next bit of business. Special mention goes to Howard Goodall's simply wonderful musical score.

In all honesty, the biggest laugh comes courtesy of Willem Dafoe. The screening of his character's incredibly boring film, with the audience falling asleep while Dafoe is transfixed, is nothing short of brilliant. Having been in the movie review game most of my life, I could associate with the snoozing audience very much.

"Mr. Bean's Holiday" is as good as it's inspiration, "Mr. Hulot's Holiday," another film centered on a character just trying to get away from it all. It is quite an appropriate swan song for Mr. Bean, unless Atkinson changes his mind. (* * * *) out of five stars. Watch this movie!: Mr. Bean's Holiday