Friday, August 24, 2007

From the Archive: "Mr. Bean's Holiday" Film Review

Film Rating: B+

Welcome to The Archive, a comprehensive collection of reviews dating back to 2007, originally written for The Denver Post’s YourHub.Com website and print edition!  In the archive, you’ll find hundreds of movie, DVD, Blu-Ray, and TV reviews, along with other special features.  You can access the complete Archive Collection by clicking here, and read about the archive project by clicking here. 

Continue reading after the jump to access my original review of “Mr. Bean's Holiday.”

From the Jonathan R. Lack Review Archives:
“Mr. Bean's Holiday”
Originally published August 24th, 2007

I don’t care what anyone else says; this has been an excellent summer for movies, one of the best in years.  There’s something magical about looking forward to a new blockbuster every weekend, and there’s something even more magical in having almost all of them deliver in their high expectations.  It’s a bit sad really that August 24th marks the end of the summer movie season, with the release of “Mr. Bean’s Holiday”, the last 2007 summer sequel, and the last real “summer” movie of the year.  But thankfully, “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” ends the summer on a great note.  It’s a fun, engaging, laugh-a-minute romp that will leave you breathless from laughing and would brighten even the gloomiest of days. 

The plot is summed up by the film’s title: Basically, Mr. Bean goes on holiday.  Hilarity ensues.

Want something a bit more detailed?  Ok.

Mr. Bean, the lovable, inept, horribly unlucky and almost-mute goof wins a raffle at his local church, and the prize is a trip to Cannes, France, for a week of fun and relaxation on the beach.  To get there, he’ll be taking a series of high-speed trains through Europe, which is the set up for many ingenious bits that pits Mr. Bean’s wits against very simple situations.  That’s a dangerous combination, and the relatively mundane task of simply getting from England to France becomes a whole 80-minute movie full of side-splitting laughter.  Along the way, Mr. Bean accidentally causes a father to be separated from his son on the same train Bean is traveling on.  Now he not only has to get the boy back to his father, but also deal with being a wanted man, as the whole of France thinks he’s kidnapping the boy.  He’ll also have to deal with Carson Clay, a filmmaker making his movie in the same places Bean is traveling, and a lovely actress who takes a shine to Bean.

There really isn’t much of a plot in the movie, but neither did the TV show.  And all the better for it.  The movie is simply an 80-minute series of Bean’s hilarious antics.  Every few minutes, a new bit starts as Bean travels across Europe.  All of these slapstick set-ups are simply genius.  Some of the highlights include a scene where Bean chases his bus ticket for miles on a bike, a scene in which Bean and the boy he’s helping to find his father try to raise money by performing lip-syncing to an opera CD, and the brilliant opening to the scene in which Bean can’t understand that his raffle ticket is upside-down.  There’s also a great recurring element; Bean’s digital camera, which he films absolutely everything with.

Rowan Atkinson is like a modern-day Charlie Chaplin; he’s a brilliant silent actor (if you didn’t know, Bean traditionally stays silent) and the master at physical humor.  There are so many great set-ups for scenes in which Bean must fix a problem he created, and does it in the stupidest way possible.  It’s very, very funny.  Best of all, the filmmakers don’t ever resort to stupid gross humor in these scenes.  Atkinson pulls it all off brilliantly. 

The very small supporting cast is very good too, supplementing Atkinson just as much as they need to.  The stand out performance is Willem DaFoe as Carson Clay, and egotistical filmmaker whose movie is constantly being ruined by Bean.  To add to the hilarity is a great soundtrack, featuring some fun rock songs and an excellent score that complements Bean’s antics very nicely.

There are so many words I can use to describe the hilarity of this movie, but all I really need to say is that if you have any love at all for Mr. Bean, then this movie will knock your socks off.  I’ve only seen a couple episodes of the TV show, so my expectations weren’t huge or anything like that when I went to see the movie.  But in my wildest dreams I wouldn’t have expected the movie to be this good.  It’s no Lawrence of Arabia, but for what the movie is, it succeeds so very well.

I should warn you, however, that if you’re only exposure to the character was the 1997 movie, you’ll be taken aback by this one.  That movie did not stay true to the TV series, by having a large supporting cast and having Bean talk.  While funny in its own way, it was not an accurate representation of the character.  “Mr. Bean’s Holiday”, on the other hand, is much more like the TV series, with Bean being the center of attention and having very little dialogue, beyond grunts and such.  Go in with the right expectations, and hopefully you’ll enjoy the movie as much as I did.

I would recommend the movie for all ages 6 or 7 and up.  There’s no questionable material (it’s rated G) but most of the dialogue (coming from secondary characters) is in French, with subtitles.  Kids should have basic reading skills to see the movie.

While “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” probably won’t make it onto my top ten list, I must admit it was one of the most enjoyable movies of the summer, and an excellent movie to end the summer movie season with.    

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