Many Americans were not the same after seeing the first movie about England’s most famous misfit. Bean: The Movie, the hilarious comedy starring Rowan Atkinson, caused some drastic changes in behavior after its release back in 1997. Many no longer were able to view the art masterpiece, Whistler’s Mother, with the same kind of reverence. Others found it impossible to dry their hands in a public restroom without laughing. And some could never again be serious while cooking a turkey. Because the film opened a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, its timing couldn’t have been much better.
Atkinson (a comic genius who got lots of laughs as a priest bungling one of the nuptial ceremonies in Four Weddings and a Funeral), first created Mr. Bean in a popular British television series that featured mostly pantomime humor. His outlandish actions speak volumes, so Bean needs few words to be funny. In this movie version, Bean’s frustrated museum boss sends him to the United States to be free of work catastrophes for a while, even though it means misrepresenting Bean, a janitor, as a distinguished art scholar. Frankly, I found it hard to blame him. But I couldn’t help being disappointed that this flimsy plot and boring scenes with an American family made the movie less appealing than those wonderful Mr. Bean television episodes.
Still, whether on the big or small screen, Mr. Bean’s continuous mishaps speak to the klutz in all of us. And Atkinson entertains us unmercifully in this role. Surprisingly, in Bean: The Movie, his impeccable physical humor is almost overshadowed by an outrageous speech describing artistic qualities of the original Whistler’s Mother painting. (“It’s big,” he begins.)
A few moviegoers who prefer more sophisticated humor decided to pass on Bean during its theatrical run – and that was their loss. But it doesn’t have to be yours. Happily, the movie is available on DVD for your viewing pleasure. Yay!
(Released by Universal Pictures and rated “PG-13” by MPAA.)
For more information about Bean: The Movie, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.
NOTE: Click here to read my review of Mr. Bean’s Holiday, the very funny Bean sequel.