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Mr Bean's Holiday

Rowan Atkinson in Mr Bean's Holiday

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Over 21 minutes of deleted scenes; 3 Featurettes: French Beans, Beans in Cannes, The Human Bean.

IT’S been 10 years since Rowan Atkinson took his Mr Bean character into cinemas for Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie. But even he admits that not everything was right about it.

There was too much talking for starters, while the whole endeavour was tailored towards mainstream audiences and American sensibilities. Mr Bean’s Holiday, the belated sequel, attempts to go back to the origins of the character and relies more on silent comedy. But it’s still a hit-and-miss affair.

The story picks up as Bean (Atkinson) wins the top prize in a church raffle for an all-expenses trip to the South of France and packs his bags in search of some sea and sun. But his journey goes wrong from the moment he reaches Paris and unwittingly misses his train connection.

The ensuing adventure finds him being mistaken for a kidnapper after he befriends a young boy (Max Baldry) he has accidentally split from his father and winds up at the Cannes Film Festival, where Mr Bean comes to antagonise a big name film director (Willem Dafoe) who is attempting to show his art-house movie.

There’s even chance for an unlikely “romance” with a bubbly French actress (Emma de Caunes) who is also headed for the festival to see her film premiere.

On the surface, Mr Bean’s Holiday has plenty of potential. It’s directed by Steve Bendelack (of Little Britain and The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse fame) from a screenplay by Robin Driscoll, Hamish McColl and Simon McBurney (last seen as a shady British diplomat in The Last King of Scotland).

But while it does have the odd inspired moment (such as an impromptu piece of street theatre or the French sing-along at the end of the movie) they merely serve to highlight how disappointing the rest of the material is.

All too often the humour relies on juvenile jokes that lack the sophistication of the film’s very best moments and which contribute to an uneven tone. Older audiences may laugh at some of the arthouse nods, but they’ll be lost on the kids. And vice-versa once the more obvious stuff kicks in. The result is a frustrating experience in which more jokes miss than hit.

Of the performances, Atkinson is so comfortable in the role he could virtually be doing it with his eyes closed. But Dafoe seems to be having fun playing a pretentious director and de Caunes is enchanting as the actress and plays well off Atkinson’s humour.

A short running time also ensures that it’s all over relatively quickly. But the overall impression is that Mr Bean’s Holiday is more of a two-star package than anything top class. Viewers are therefore advised to check in with caution.

Certificate: U
Running time: 88mins