Ok, so this will be less of a review, and more of a…reflection. I can’t write reviews, but I can recommend (or not) something to certain types of people and try to explain briefly why I do.
True to the spirit of the TV episodes (while still being strung together coherently in to a real story line), Mr. Bean’s Holiday is hilarious and touching. Mr. Bean just wants to get to his vacation at the beach, and we’re very fortunate to be able to come along for the ride. This is truly Rowan Atkinson in top form, giving us the Mr. Bean movie I’ve always thought Mr. Bean deserved.
The 1997 movie “Bean” was bittersweet for me, happy to have more of Mr. Bean, but feeling that the movie didn’t do the character justice (too much side story, too many main characters, too much Americanization, and too much dialog, to name a few problems). But Mr. Bean’s Holiday avoids the pitfalls of the earlier attempt at a big screen adventure with such great success, that I can even almost forget there ever was another Mr. Bean movie….or least mind the bad parts a little less.
One of the first great things done in Mr. Bean’s Holiday was to send Mr. Bean to a non-English speaking country. To make a decent budget movie you need to make it accessible to a wide audience, and most widely accessible movies have people talking to each other (assuming there’s no deserted island, or other extreme circumstance). So to let Rowan Atkinson excel with his not-talking Mr. Bean, you simply send him somewhere like France, where even his closest of newfound traveling companions have no real reason to expect much of a verbal response from him.
And here’s where I come back to the part about me being bad at reviews. I don’t know how to explain well enough why Rowan Atkinson’s physical (and facial) comedy is so rewarding for me in the form of Mr. Bean. And I don’t know how to explain why the movie was so rewarding, so satisfying, except that I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Bean, and I really think the movie did him justice.
If you dislike Mr. Bean, I highly doubt you’ll enjoy this movie. If you’ve never been exposed to Mr. Bean, the odds probably don’t favor your liking the movie either. But if you’ve ever laughed at the bumbling Brit, or even just have some sentimental memories of enjoying his mishaps with loved ones (like my siblings and I when we were much younger), then Mr. Bean’s Holiday is sure to delight.
On a side note, I was fortunate in my seeing the movie that I was surrounded by people who, like me, were truly Bean “fans”. There was laughing, there was cheering. For every vague allusion to an earlier Bean story, there was no shortage of people to chuckle along with me. When the movie was over, people clapped. Clapped! This was how a Mr. Bean movie was meant to be enjoyed: with people who love Mr. Bean as much as you. For someone who normally hates the annoyances of the strangers he’s sharing a theater with, I was very glad to be in that packed auditorium with those people this afternoon.
I was exceptionally pleased with the ending (not the parts close to the ending, with their little plot holes and all, but the real, few minutes before the credits, ending). I almost got teary-eyed knowing this was the last I’d ever see of Mr. Bean (in Atkinson’s own words, “After this movie he will cease to exist any more.”) But it was apparent that Atkinson, and the writers, producers, director, etc. knew that this wasn’t just the end to a movie, but that it was the end of Mr. Bean. They closed it well, and gave us a good chance to say goodbye to an old friend. Of course, even though the stories won’t be new, it’ll be fun to revisit him many times again.