Mr. Bean's French trip is sweet fun

Posted: August 24, 2007

There really are two kinds of people in the world: Folks who can't stand Mr. Bean, and those who would gladly - eagerly - lay down their lives for him.

Perhaps few would go that far, but fans of Rowan Atkinson's character, who is let loose on the French countryside in Mr. Bean's Holiday, are inexplicably devout.

A former Bean hater, I've been converted by Holiday, Atkinson's second, and far superior film version of his TV hit.

A fast-paced, intelligent picaresque, Holiday follows the easily flummoxed Bean en route to Cannes, where the film has a glorious finale. A klutz who out-Clouseaus the Pink Panther's Inspector Clouseau, Bean strands a Russian passenger (Karel Roden) on a train platform, separating the man from his young son (Max Baldry) who's already aboard. On a crazy quest to reunite father and son, Bean-as-questing-Quixote meets his Dulcinea, Sabine (Emma De Caunes), an actress whose Platonic love for Bean and caritas for the kid guides them to the light. Or, something like that.

Holiday, which also features Willem Dafoe in an uproarious turn as a self-obsessed American director, is plain funny.

The film's Harold Lloyd-inspired slapstick may be infantile, but it has an innocent sensibility that is a nice counterbalance to the equally childish but prurient American Pie flicks. So, why is Bean, an awkward, geeky-gangly, asexual middle-aged Brit with a Mini-motor-car-fetish, such an uncannily likable, funny character?

It's hard to explain. He just is.


Mr. Bean's Holiday *** (out of four stars)

Directed by Steve Bendelack. With Rowan Atkinson, Emma de Caunes, Max Baldry, Willem Dafoe, Karel Roden. Distributed by Universal Pictures.

Running time: 1 hour, 30 mins.

Parent's guide: PG (very brief, mild profanity)

Playing at: area theaters


Contact staff writer Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com

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