Making the Grades
It's been ten years since Rowan Atkinson starred as Mr. Bean in his first theatrical film, simply titled Bean. Known primarily in the UK for his short segments involving libraries, parking lots, bus stops and just about every other part of everyday life, that first attempt to stretch the character into a movie was anything but funny for families used to his typically clean television humor. Thankfully, this second (and reportedly last) attempt successfully offers much more comedy and very few reasons not to bring the kids.
The setup begins simply. After winning a church raffle for a trip to Cannes on the French Riviera, Mr. Bean is thrilled to leave the London rain and hop on the train. But first, he needs a picture of him standing in front of the railcar, looking posh and debonair. Approaching another passenger, he takes a little too much time getting the pose just right. When the bell rings for all to get on board, Bean manages to get through the door, but his hapless cameraman is not as lucky. Worse yet, the man's son, Stepan (Max Baldry) is on the train, and is devastated to see his father being left behind.
Although Bean does his best to placate the child, he does not want to destroy his trip by having to take care of the boy. However the plan to have him meet his Dad at the next stop doesn't work out, and he has no choice but to try and get both of them to their destination. Needless to say with Mr. Bean in charge, the trip won't run smoothly, especially after he loses his wallet and tickets forcing the pair to earn their way to their destination.
Funny from start to finish, this film is evidence of Atkinson's comedic abilities, especially considering how little his character talks. With his bendable body and distortable face, this actor takes on a most difficult task -- making people laugh for an hour and a half. Young Max Baldry is also unexpectedly capable of playing Mr. Bean's sidekick. In one scene, where the two are busking for change by performing a heart tugging opera, the effect is surprisingly poignant. But the topping on the comedic cake belongs to Willem Dafoe playing a pompous filmmaker named Carson Clay, who shows his "art" at the Cannes Film Festival -- a scene sure to be appreciated by any film critic.
Destined to be one of the funniest films this year, it's also one of the cleanest for family viewing (a rarity in this genre). Only a few possible concerns are included in the script. These include a man jumping from a low bridge into a river after believing his girlfriend doesn't want to continue their relationship and a couple of other scenes where people slap each other for comedic effect. Sexual content is limited to a man seen from behind using a urinal (there is no nudity). There are no profanities other than two uses of the word "darn."
While not everyone appreciates British humor, if you are one who does, Mr. Bean's Holiday is sure to be a fun trip -- and you'll see some wonderful French countryside as a bonus.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Mr. Bean’s Holiday.
How does Mr. Bean’s lack of dialogue change the way this character is portrayed? How does it change the way others interact with him in the film?