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  Mr. Bean's Holiday En Vacances Avec L'Idiot
Year: 2007
Director: Steve Bendelack
Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Emma de Caunes, Max Baldry, Willem Dafoe, Jean Rochefort, Karl Roden, Steve Pemberton, Julie Fournier, Julie Ferrier, Antoine de Caunes, Clint Dyer
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: A rainy summer's day in June, and Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson) feels as if he could do with a break, so when the local church raffle offers an all-expenses paid holiday to the South of France, he snaps up a ticket and is there, very eager, at the handing over of the prizes. When the winning number is read out - 919 - he thinks he has lost until he notices that his ticket is not 616, but the correct number upside down, and can barely contain his joy. Soon he is off on his trip, but it does not go quite as he expected...

It may not go as Mr Bean expects, but it pretty much goes as we expect as Atkinson and Richard Curtis's famous creation could be counted on to get into various scrapes and mishaps. Here, however, there was a touch of pretension to the slapstick, as Atkinson and his writers made specific reference to the films of Jacques Tati, whose Mr. Hulot's Holiday was an obvious influence, even if it did take the whole movie for our hero to reach the beach. With such worldwide success for such a determinedly silly character, it was little wonder Atkinson would have wished for a more highbrow cachet.

Especially as while the first movie with this character, Bean, had been such a massive hit when critically there were the grumbles about Atkinson frittering away his substantial talent on something that was beneath him (see also the Johnny English movies). He took his comedy very seriously, and if there was one of his works which illustrated that aspect more than the others it was Mr. Bean's Holiday, a film more to inspire gentle chuckles than uproarious belly laughs. For this reason there were a lot of viewers who took against it, to a quite unreasonable degree, as if personally offended by this unassuming but warm humour.

Which was a shame, because as far as starring vehicles went, on the big screen at any rate, this was one of Atkinson's most accomplished. The plot was by necessity kept as simple as possible, seeing Mr Bean reach France, so there's a start, but finding staying on the correct transport beyond him, and winding up accompanying a young boy (Max Baldry) who he accidentally parts from his Russian Cannes jury member father (Karl Roden) and has to assist in reuniting. So there was a lot of getting on the train/bus only to see it disappearing into the distance when events conspire to have Mr. Bean stranded once again. Add in some neat, tourist-y views and situations, and mix to serve.

Director Steve Bendelack was evidently instructed to keep this as sunny and bright as possible, therefore visually it was as close an approximation to an actual holiday as the filmmakers could muster. As for the jokes, most relied upon Atkinson's physicality, so there was plenty of face pulling, and a contrivance that saw him take a video camera along to record his excursion was milked for all it was worth, which to be fair provided some very funny moments. Mr. Bean didn't exactly get a girlfriend this time, but he did meet budding movie actress Sabine (Emma de Caunes), also headed for Cannes and the festival, who offers transport which is much to his liking. Throw in Willem Dafoe as an genuinely pretentious director whose reputation Bean ends up inadvertantly making, and the results were light, frothy and almost beguiling should you allow yourself to relax into the daftness. Charm could be undervalued in comedy, especially at the time this example was released, but charming was what this was. Music by Howard Goodall.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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