For fans around the world who know and laugh at/with him, one word says it all: Bean (enunciated in a low-bass voice). Rowan Atkinson once again brings his beloved character to the big screen with magnified potency in “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” (Steve Bendelack). This hilarious film has Mr. Bean spilling new antics—pun intended—and classic gags on a trip across France. After “winning” a camcorder and a vacation package to the French Riviera, Bean sets out in Bean style, and the laughs don’t stop.
The film’s momentum starts when Bean tries to videotape himself boarding a train and inadvertently causes the separation of a father, Emil (Karel Roden), and son, Stepan (Max Baldry). Bean is determined to right the wrong and reunite Stepan safely with Emil. Along the way, they encounter a range of seemingly random bystanders, a French actress (Emma de Caunes), and other surprises including Willem Dafoe as fictional film director Carson Clay. The outrageous journey culminates in a climactic showdown at the Cannes Film Festival.
Familiar Bean moments such as an oyster-eating scene at a fancy restaurant, Bean in drag (this time Chanel-esque), and the Bean dance are reborn with fresh twists and more all-out hilarity. Accenting the film’s comedy are the overall homage and satirical references to French new-wave cinema, European art film style, auteur theory, post-digital video filmmaking techniques, and distinct directors such as Jacques Tati and Dario Argento (watch for Bean’s night driving scene with the matchbook). The film successfully avoids becoming derivative in skillfully blending these motifs within its own narrative structure.