Favorite

Full of beans 

BEANS IS BACK: Rowan Atkinson reprises role as quirky Mr. Beans.
  • BEANS IS BACK: Rowan Atkinson reprises role as quirky Mr. Beans.

In what Rowan Atkinson has called his last feature outing as the childish accidental prankster “Mr. Bean,” this bookend sequel to “Bean” (1997) is a highly enjoyable family comedy for every unadorned moment of Mr. Atkinson's comic genius. The British, deep-but-squawky-voiced, Mr. Bean wins a church raffle for a vacation to the South of France that includes all of 200 euros and a digital mini-cam to record his holiday. Accompanied by an arsenal of goofy faces, high-water pants and a brown winter blazer, Mr. Bean leaves a trail of disaster everywhere he goes. Bean's impromptu photo session with a fellow traveler, Russian film director Emil (Karel Roden), strands the man on a train platform away from his son Stepan (Max Baldry), who Mr. Bean must chaperone on the train to Cannes.

It's impossible to overestimate Rowan Atkinson's skills as a comic. The nerdy Oxford graduate draws effortlessly on the performance vocabularies of comedians like Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati (“M. Hulot's Holiday”), while adding his own akimbo physicality to create a curious man hampered with the brain of a 9-year-old boy. Atkinson pays homage to Keaton, as when Bean circumnavigates Paris in a straight line using a compass that leads him over park benches and traffic-filled streets.

There's a signature “Bean” sequence in a fancy Parisian restaurant where the maitre d' (Jean Rochefort) mistakenly seats Mr. Bean, and takes the liberty of bringing out a seafood platter consisting of giant shrimp and oysters. Bean proceeds to consume one of the large crustaceans — shell, claws, head and all — from the back end as a naturally grotesque act of buffoonery. He goes on to make a show for the dining room manager by pretending to enjoy the oysters that he secretly spills into a napkin before pouring its slimy contents into the open purse of a nearby patron, whose sticky cell phone soon rings.

The universally accessible camp amusement builds to a breaking point when Bean tries to cheer up the lonely little Stepan by making a host of rubbery faces that cost him a slap in the face from the cheeky lad. Atkinson's painstaking choreography and unflappable timing draw laughs when Bean busks for money at an outdoor provincial market by dancing and mouthing lyrics to songs ranging from pop to opera. It's one of the funniest sequences and taps into the depth of Atkinson's physical burlesque.

“Mr. Bean's Holiday” gains texture from the inclusion of simultaneous footage filmed on Mr. Bean's video camera during the vacation. The recurring film-inside-a-film device shifts the road movie episodes to a subjective viewpoint that lets the audience in on Bean's boyish mindset. Good use is made of Cannes as a properly pronounced destination where insufferable American arthouse director Carson Clay (Willem Dafoe) is premiering his self-produced, directed, written and acted, navel-gazing vehicle “Playback Time.” The humor wanes here primarily because Willem Dafoe is not a comic actor, but also because his character barely reacts to Mr. Bean's outre shenanigans.

Atkinson's humor, as a British-inflected vindictive mime, walks a fine line between irreverence, anarchy and innocence. As with the skits of Monty Python, there's nothing highbrow about it, and yet there is such art and irony at play that the sophistication is unmistakable. “Mr. Bean's Holiday” is an immediate classic because its comic traditions are so faithfully employed at every level of execution. There's something Shakespearean in the way director Steve Bendelack and his ensemble join in celebrating a fresh approach to a comic heritage that Atkinson perfected while working with the BBC-produced television show “Not the Nine O' Clock News.” What could be next, a Jackie Chan and Rowan Atkinson buddy picture where Atkinson is the martial artist?

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Gay diamonds

    Scenes from Rodeo in the Rock.
    • May 7, 2015
  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.
  • Arkansas archeologist does his job, is asked to leave

    Amid Department of Arkansas Heritage project.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Belk bowling, b-ball

    • Good analysis, something completely lacking from the daily newspaper's sports reporters/columnists.

    • on December 9, 2016
  • Re: Resurrection, reflection

    • http://hairtransplantncr.com/ hair transplant in delhi hair transplant ncr hair transplant cost hair transplant cost in…

    • on December 8, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation