Bean (1997)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Bean, you devil.

Some things just aren’t for everyone, you know that. One famous British character that matches that description is Rowan Atkinson’s uber-popular creation: Mr. Bean. Mr. Bean, if you weren’t aware, is this character that uses pantomiming techniques (body-language, almost completely non-verbal) in order to make you laugh. In other words, he is pretty much a mime. Now, Mr. Bean started off as a television program of the same name, in which he would have little sketches that allowed Atkinson to tell a story without verbally telling you anything. They were always hilarious, and I’ll always see Mr. Bean as a god of comedy. In 1997, they decided to bring Mr. Bean to the silver screen for a full-length film called Bean. How can they make such a movie without spoken language you say? Easy, that rule only applies to him, anyway.

Okay, so Mr. Bean was hired on as…security, I believe, at a museum in London. He obviously sucks at everything he ever does, so his real job description is to just sit at look at paintings all day. Even that he manages to mess up. His superiors hate him and want him gone, but they are instructed that they cannot fire him. So instead, they send him to America to be the spokesperson for a famous painting, Whistler’s Mother, which was just shipped to the states. While in the states, he is welcomed by David Langley and his family. Little did they know that Bean’s “expert” status was all a ruse, and they were in for quite a… “treat”.

Instead of starting with the good to this film, I want to immediately talk about some of the flaws people will see in this film. The plot sucks. By sucks, I mean there is no real solid goal. Bean is there to speak for the painting…but he’s really there just to mess everything up as he usually does. The plot is of little importance in this film…but I saw this when it first came out…and yet I remembered almost everything that happened, which tells me it’s rather memorable regardless…but we’ll get to that. The second part of what is pretty bad, if not confusing, is trying to distinguish the protagonist and antagonist. As far as I can tell, there is no real antagonist in this film other than Mr. Bean, but Mr. Bean isn’t bad…just unfortunate. That leads me to suggest the antagonist of Bean is simply…Mr. Bean’s antics. Different, true enough, but is that a difference that many people will really like? In all honesty, not unless you understand Atkinson’s style of humor.

Atkinson is extremely hilarious. He looks weird, and he somehow is able to create a character that is a stereotypical caricature of himself. Mr. Bean has the unmatched ability to tell a story without speech that is a long-lost art. Something we haven’t seen much of since Charlie Chaplin’s silent film days. As far a film goes, it’s not the best movie because it feels more like an anthology. Yes, it’s stitched together quite seamlessly, but when you really look at the film closely, you start to realize that every little scene is pretty much – another short skit that Mr. Bean is famous for. That’s not a bad thing, but it feels more like a sketch comedy show than it does a movie, which is one thing you may have been worrying about before watching it.

Technically, I should probably rate this lower than I did, but the fact of the matter is that the movie is funny. Rowan Atkinson is a genius in his comedy routine, and good movie or not, his character has the ability to shine. Technically, I prefer his TV show over this film, but this film was able to add that dynamic range between speaking roles and his over-the-top body language antics.  It really was funny.

The Good:
Rowan Atkinson is Mr. Bean. His hysterical sense of humor and ability to tell a complete story without using any words is a remarkable lost art. His chemistry with Peter MacNicol is so well-done that they both contribute to the story equally enough to keep it going.

The Bad:
Mr. Bean doesn’t fit as well in film as he does in his TV show. He requires tiny little skits in order to tell a story, and that is apparent in this film as well, which makes it feel less like a movie.

Memorable Quote:
Mr. Bean: Hello, I’m Dr. Bean…apparently.

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