Mr. Bean`s Holiday
R1 - America - Universal Pictures
Review written by and copyright: James Teitelbaum (7th December 2007).
The Film

Mr. Bean, the signature character from British comedian Rowan Atkinson, has won a trip to Cannes. On his way from England through Paris to the south of France, he has a complicated series of troubles that hamper his journey. Beginning with a missed train in Paris and continuing with various other misadventures as he makes his way across the country, Bean faces mishap after mishap.
Mr. Bean is successor to a long line of lovable silver screen clods that started with Charles Chaplin, and continues through Harpo Marx, the Inspector Clouseau character (played by several actors over the years in many films including Peter Sellers, Alan Arkin and most recently Steve Martin), the classic animated character Mister Magoo, and Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens). I am a fan (to varying degrees) of all of these characters, and you'll see echoes of all of them in Mr. Bean. However, being endearing and convincing while portraying a state of cluelessness requires a bit of skill. Atkinson definitely has his fans, but he is no Chaplin or Peter Sellers.
It seems to me that everyone from Marx to Herman behaved in a manner that let us identify with them on some level. Watching Bean, I often found myself on the outside, wondering if his actions were selfish or just naive, and if he was mentally ill or just a free spirit. This ambiguity and lack of clear intent never seemed to be a problem with the other characters I have mentioned.
Bean dumps oysters into a woman's purse, sabotages a film set, separates a young boy from his father, and causes a man to leap from a tall bridge (all of this in a G-rated film, no less!). When not leaving a trail of destruction in the wake of his clumsiness, Mr. Bean makes his way towards Cannes. His two main companions end up being the aforementioned young boy Stepan (Max Baldry), and a perky actress Sabine (Emma de Caunes - last seen in "The Science of Sleep" (2006)) who also wants to make it to Cannes in time for a premiere. Bean ends up on the run from both the law, and from Willem Dafoe (of all people) who plays the uptight director of the pretentious film that Bean has unwittingly sabotaged.
Dafoe is a good sport here, playing his role absolutely straight, providing Atkinson with a perfect foil for Mr. Bean's goofiness. In keeping with the French setting, a few well-known actors from that nation make cameos, such as Jean Rochefort (his health seems just fine, by the way, maybe he can jump back in the saddle for the rumored second attempt at Terry Gilliam's aborted "Don Quixote" film?).
The big surprise in this film is the camerawork by Baz Irvine, who goes above and beyond what might be required for a quickie comedy such as this one; he captures rural France with some skill and care.
Overall, there are some good gags in the film (a recurring cell phone bit is great), a few moments of real wit, and a whole lot of Bean's mumbling, clumsiness, and rubber-faced silliness. If that's your thing, then go for it.

Video

The film is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Being a new film produced by a major studio (Universal), the print here is perfect, and free of any dust or scratches. I didn't notice any significant compression artifacts or other digital anomalies. Irvine's colorful and brightly-lit images are largely solid and clear.

Audio

Presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and French Dolby Digital 5.1 only, the film could just as easily have been presented in stereo; the rear speakers don't have much to do here. Subtitle options include English SDH (Deaf or Hard of Hearing), Spanish or French.

Extras

The collection of extras here is not too shabby, with three short featurettes and a healthy collection of seventeen deleted scenes (all of which have been edited, scored, and color timed). There are no trailers; Also (this isn't strictly an extra or an Easter Egg), there is a short additional scene at the end of the credits to watch for (this was on the theatrical print). Below is a closer look at the supplements.

Deleted scenes included are:
- "Bean Asks About Train" which runs for 21 seconds, Bean pantomimes a train's motion by way of asking for directions.
- "Stepan Spots Bean" which runs for 28 seconds, Stepan has been looking for Bean and finally sees him.
- "Bean Gets Tie Stuck in Vending Machine" which runs for 1 minute 22 seconds, Alternate version of the same scene from the movie.
- "Bean Tricks Businessman into Swapping Tickets" which runs for 1 minute 56 seconds, On train the without a ticket, Bean gets a businessman in trouble by swindling his ticket out of him.
- "Bean Carries Stepan Across the Market" which runs for 36 seconds, short clip of Bean carrying Stepan across a crowded market.
- "Bean Films Himself Doing Silly Moves in the Road which runs for 2 minutes 39 seconds, Bean uses his video camera to amuse himself while lost in the French countryside.
- "Bean Hitching and Making Shadows" which runs for 1 minute 15 seconds, After the previous scene, Bean tries to hitchhike while stranded in a rural area, and is distracted by some shadowplay.
- "Sabine Struggles with Her Emotions" which runs for 3 minutes 47 seconds, While in the car with Bean, Sabine whines about how badly her director is treating her, about her bad acting roles, and her bad wigs.
- "Sabine Almost Run Over By a Truck" which runs for 1 minute 20 seconds, Following previous scene, Sabine lays down in the road out of anger and frustration, but gets up at the last moment.
- "Bean Mimes His Journey to Stepan" which runs for 1 minute 57 seconds, Bean tells his whole story up to this point, in mime.
- "Bean Playing with Ring Tones" which runs for 41 seconds, Bean is trying to figure out how a cell phone works.
- "Bean Pilfers Gas from Unsuspecting Motorist" which runs for 1 minute 22 seconds, At a gas station Bean pumps gas on someone else's dime.
- "Bean Closes the Door 'Put Your Hands in the Air'" which runs for 48 seconds, Fragment of buskers performing song.
- "Bean Falls Asleep" which runs for 1 minute 49 seconds, Bean gives in to fatigue.
- "Film Projector Chaos" which runs for 1 minute 11 seconds, Bean in the Cannes projection room sabotaging Clay's screening.
- "Carson Clay Picks Up Projector" which runs for 31 seconds, Clay enters projection room and attempts to save his screening.
- "Buskers Sing "La Mer", Bean Dances" which runs for 1 minute 57 seconds, Title says it all. From end of film.

"French Bean" is a featurette that runs for 11 minutes 24 seconds, this is your basic by-the-book making-of featurette, containing fly on the wall footage from the film set, on-set interviews with director, other crew members, and cast members inter-cut with studio interviews (Atkinson, etc.). All of the involved parties are positive and upbeat, and seemed to have had a good time making the movie.

Next is "Bean in Cannes" a featurette that runs for 5 minutes 49 seconds and includes more footage and interviews with cast and crew, as above, but now specifically focusing on the Cannes part of the shoot. It is interesting that the Cannes red carpet scene was actually shot (Guerrilla-style, but with permission) during a real film premiere at Cannes.

Finally we have "The Human Bean" featurette that runs for 6 minutes 13 seconds. This is a short love-fest for Atkinson, with still more studio and on-set interviews praising Atkinson and his creation of the Mr. Bean character.

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: A Audio: B- Extras: B+ Overall: B+

 


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