Mr. Bean’s Holiday (2007)

(On Cable TV, November 2015) I’ve never been a big fan of Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder, sure, but not Mr. Bean) and the first film didn’t do much to mollify me.  But there’s a strong streak of cleverness underneath the dumb physical humor and Mr. Bean’s Holidays clearly highlights the wit behind the pratfalls.  There are, to be sure, pratfalls a plenty as Bean makes his way south, through France in order to attend the Cannes film festival.  For what it’s worth, the film does bet better as it goes on: the first half-hour is pure Bean, but the last one gets satiric about cinema itself.  Willem Dafoe shows up as an intensely pretentious actor/director, and that leads us to a very funny Cannes preview of an insufferable arthouse films.  At another time, Bean shows up at the right time to screw up the shooting of a big WW2-themed commercial.  Those gets laughs that aren’t usually the kind associated with the Mr. Bean character.  The rest of the film is generally tolerable, with Atkinson’s mugging for the camera being supported by real comedy.  Mr. Bean’s Holidays does seem to be a bit better than the first film, which lost itself in trying to package Bean for an American audience –this time, he looks to be more in his element, in a film tailored to the character’s strengths.  Much of it starts to grate early, but there are a few gems in the film’s second half –enough to justify seeing the film even if your reaction to Bean is lukewarm at best.

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