OK, I didn’t even know another Mr. Bean movie was out, but that’s what we went to see last night.
I tend to be very stream of consciousness in my reviews, I should probably be more structured. Well, I’ll wait for another movie to start that…
This movie was much like Mr. Bean himself, a strange bird that is initially very off-putting and uncomfortable, with fits and starts of humor, much of it so adolescent that it strains credulity to think of a man Rowan Atkinson’s age doing this sort of thing.
The first third of the movie is a bit of silent-movie farce, reminiscent of some of the sight gag humor in the old Buster Keaton movies. But it is dreadfully slow and sometimes painful to watch. Most of this part of the movie is about Bean’s initial trip to France and the misadventures that he encounters which, of course, smash his careful schedule all to pieces and end up with him losing most of his valuables, including his money and his passport. I would not be surprised if a lot of people leave the theater by the end of the first third of the movie. But that would be a mistake.
The middle third of the movie is a sort of family melodrama that I can’t really describe without “spoiling” the movie’s main “plot.” This begins to move a little faster and eventually ends up with Mr. Bean teamed up with an unlikely pair of accomplices in his efforts to get to Cannes and begin his beach vacation, which is all Mr. Bean really wants to do. There are a couple of very funny scenes in this portion of the movie, and it is clear that Rowan Atkinson is truly a gifted physical comic.
But it is the final third that really finally gets into gear, where Mr. Bean’s attempts to get to the beach end up with him at the Cannes film festival where the bizarre circumstances end up with him interfering with a major premier movie in the bumbling way that only he can do. The vicious jabs at the pretentiousness of Cannes and the society set that follow such things is worth the price of admission all by itself. Here the character of William Dafoe is surprisingly well-crafted and well acted, and is the target of the rapier-sharp lampooning that Atkinson delivers. It may be surprising to see Dafoe in such a light-hearted bit of summer fluff, but he creates a solid and believable caricature of the self-obsessed Hollywood star.
The very end is typical light-hearted feel-good candy for the movie-goer, complete with large groups of strangers breaking into song as Mr. Bean finally rolls up his pants and dances about in the surf of the French Riviera. It’s hard not to smile at the way the movie ends.
Emma de Caunes portrays one of Bean’s odd partners in his efforts to get to Cannes. She is a lovely young woman and I have to say that the camera likes her. She delivers a charming and engaging portrayal of a young actress trying to make her way in the world, and Bean somehow manages to advance her career as he stumbles and bumbles through France. The other is a young actor named Max Baldry, who plays a boy separated from his father (you can guess how that happened) and the three of them end up at Cannes, where the interrelated story arcs finally all come together.
Oh, I should add that the movie has some of the most stunning cinematography in places, quite incongruous in fact. Shots of a bridge across France are lyrical in their visual beauty. there are similar shots of the open farmlands in France and some quaint villages, as well as some beautiful scenes of the French Riviera itself. Whoever did the cinematography deserves a lot more credit than they will get from a movie like this.
If you have the patience to sit through the agonizing predictability of the first 30 minutes or so, the rest of the movie is well wort the time and money.