Movie Magazine International

Mr. Bean

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

Love him or hate him, Mr. Bean now has a full-length film, directed by Mel Smith, that gives the disastrous, uncouth and absurd character more room to make trouble.

If you've never been exposed to Rowan Atkinson's rubber- faced, geeky Englishmen, this may be too much Bean to take. If you're a cable subscriber or an overseas traveller, you may already have some Bean in your blood. This movie has been made for the latter.

Mr. Bean's job at the National Gallery in London is to 'sit in the corner and look at the paintings.' When the gallery sells the great American masterpiece, 'Whistler's Mother' to Grierson Art Gallery in Los Angeles, they jump on a golden opportunity to send Mr. Bean far, far away. It's a three-month assignment and nobody in London seems to care about a free trip to L.A., or that Mr. Bean knows nothing about art, they simply fantasize about three glorious Bean-free months.

Mr. Bean becomes the house guest of the gallery's curator, David, and immediately begins destroying David's once-happy and successful life not on purpose, mind you, it's just Bean's way.

Because Mr. Bean rarely speaks, there's plenty of sight gags exploding turkeys in microwaves, air-popping used barf bags, digging an M&M out of a man's open gut and so on. But those are cheap laughs and, luckily, Atkinson is a gifted actor who can do comedy with brow high or low.

Here's the thing about Bean. He's weird, a real freak, if you saw an empty seat next to him on the bus, you'd stand. His body is so noisy and scary, it makes you cringe. Watching this movie, I said 'Ewww!' and 'Gross!' out loud, a lot.

But once you really get Bean and see him for what he is, a different picture emerges: a rebel, a happy child, a loner, and even, a full-fledged hero. Most people don't understand him and he never seems to notice or care. This is the film's driving point we could all stand to be more like Bean but with fewer nose problems.

Kudos to Peter MacNichol who dares to make a fallible and completely likable character out of David, who could otherwise, just be a straight man for Bean's antics. It is he who finally holds Bean still and sputters in exasperation, the straight-up truth: 'If you do nothing, nothing can go wrong.' A peaceful thought but short-lived. We spend most of the film dreading the next Bean-induced disaster.

© 1997 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 11/97

"Movie Magazine International" Movie Review Index

"Movie Magazine International" Home Page