Judge David Johnson tried to think of a witty blurb about beans but, frankly, he was baked and feeling a bit green.
Disaster has a passport.
I guess some people really like this stuff. Huh.
Facts of the Case
Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) is delighted to discover that he's won a dream vacation to France. Hefting his camcorder, he heads off to catch some sun at the beach, but, of course, it's never that simple. After a few misunderstandings, Bean is saddled with the responsibility of returning a lost boy to his father, help guide a cute wannabe actress to stardom and avoid a countrywide dragnet that mistakenly thinks he abducted the kid, who happens to the be son of a well-known Russian director.
There you go, 80+ minutes of near-pantomime buffoonery, collateral damage and…Willem Dafoe?!
Full disclosure. I entered this viewing experience shouldering a dislike of Mr. Bean. Well, maybe "dislike" is too harsh a word; I'd probably go with "mild puzzlement about the character's wild popularity." Objectively, Rowan Atkinson is a gifted physical comedian, and that's like 90% of the schtick in Holiday, but I've always found the routine to wear thin. So heading in, I had some preconceived feelings about what lay in front of me.
Is there a happy ending, then? Was this soulless, cold-hearted jackass won over by the warm shenanigans of an inoffensive family movie and its lovably goofy titular character? Mmmm, not quite.
Here's what I'll admit right away: 1) if you're a Mr. Bean fan, then I think you'll dig this movie and 2) towards the end the film did manage to win me over a tad so that then the end credits rolled I didn't leave with a malicious feeling. Small victories, I suppose, but they're victories.
When you get right down to it though, I simply am not a fan of the Mr. Bean character or humor, which is why 1) doesn't apply and I ultimately sat their stone-faced throughout much of the runtime. The slapstick didn't resonate (hey, Mr. Bean is riding his bicycle treacherously fast!), nor did some of the mild gross-out stuff (oh look, Mr. Bean is pouring oysters into some lady's purse!), nor did the more obscure comedy set-pieces (why, that's Mr. Bean pantomiming to an opera in the middle of the street! Should I laugh? Is that impolite?). Again, to reiterate, in my experience, that's par for the Mr. Bean course, so if it's your bag, you'll likely enjoy it more than I did.
To wind this down on a positive note, the movie ended up charming me a bit, especially towards the culmination with a combination of Willem Dafoe's amusing character, an artsy-fartsy director who is oblivious to the horror of his Cannes premiere, the atypically genial Karel Roden (the abusive father from Running Scared (2006)) and the lovely Emma de Caunes pitching in to fill me with a slight shot of the fuzzies, partially salvaging the operation.
Onto the technical merits of the release. The newly-minted high-def picture failed to blow me away. Though it has its moments, particularly during some of the more scene-setting, European sequences, overall the 1080p, 1.85:1 widescreen treatment did not strike me as a huge leap beyond standard DVD visuals. An upgrade sure, and easily the best-looking version of the film you'll be able to find, but muted colors and a soft look throughout puts Mr. Bean's Holiday on the lower tier of picture quality reference discs. Audio is strong however, with a now-standard TrueHD 5.1 supplementing two Digital Plus 5.1 mixes(English and French). The soundtrack is the most active element of the mix (primarily because dialogue is so limited) and it's a good one and sounds great.
Extras disappoint, but most of them are at least in HD. Deleted scenes offer more of the same, and three high-def featurettes look at the making-of the film: "French Beans" talks about the French setting for the film, "Beans in Cannes" pays tribute to the Cannes folks for allowing scenes to be shot on the red carpet and "The Human Bean" gives it up for Atkinson.
Mr. Bean's Holiday is essentially a silent movie, which is appropriate because I was essentially silent while watching it.
Can this one.
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