Mr. Bean’s Holiday will not be the best movie of the year, or the funniest, or your favorite, or even your child’s favorite movie. While it does have its funny moments and offers relief for all those super-serious films we absorb during most of the year, Holiday gets a little lost on its way. Rowan Atkinson still plays that wonderfully awkward, innocent, and unassuming Mr. Bean, but the story is weak, uneventful, and drags in pace. Chances are the children that would enjoy his antics won’t be able to understand the Cannes Film Festival concept or be able to read English subtitles.
The story begins with Bean winning a trip to Cannes to relax on the beach and enjoy life. What starts out pleasant quickly turns into turmoil when Bean accidentally separates a father from his son on the train. The problem is that Bean is thought to be kidnapping a Film Festival Judge’s child. The film then follows the pair trying to make it to Cannes. What the movie lacks here is momentum. For the most part Bean and the boy just travel for a majority of the time and it only picks up in pace toward the end. There’s no sense of urgency here. What’s not clear is if this is intentional to reflect Bean’s mentality or if this is just bad writing. While watching Atkinson perform his heart out is funny, it’s not ninety-minutes-funny.
The aspect that stays true to the Bean franchise is the title character's purity and child-like, yet adult, nature. He is silly without being aware of his own silliness, and he is awkward all the while thinking he is normal. Another feature to Bean’s character that remains the same in Holiday is his lack or misuse of language. He is put into a situation where speaking isn’t expected of him, making the comedy thrive on physical work, gestures, and movements instead of language. Similar to the old silent films, Bean must express with his body what others say with their mouths. However, no one else in the film is included in this challenge. This oddly gives the expectation that Bean should speak. When words do come out of Bean, he keeps them short, sweet, and often incorrect. While in France he constantly thanks people by saying ‘gracias’: obvious to everyone but him that this word is not the correct one.
So without language and without seriousness, Bean travels. He travels on train, bike, foot, car, what have you, and then he tries to get to Cannes some more. There isn’t much to go on and there isn’t much that is memorable to ask for a second viewing of the movie. It is what it is. For those who enjoy Bean, then Holiday won’t be too bad, but for someone new to him or not thrilled by him, this one will be a bore. What’s sad is that, for a new movie about Bean, he doesn’t do anything particularly new. It’s the same type of style, comedy, etcetera, that has set him in difficult situations in the past. One thing that would be nice in a film for a character like this would have been to explore him as a character more. What makes him the way he is? Why does he not use language? Give us something to increase the depth of the character for the adults, even if the kids only see Bean for his surface humor.
For Bean fanatics, Mr. Bean’s Holiday will do just fine. It will add to a collection or make their heart warm with joy to have a new installment of Bean. But, for those who don’t feel either way about him, or don’t enjoy him at all, Holiday doesn’t help or hurt Bean. This is just a movie for the fun of it and nothing more. It is a fluff film that doesn’t hurt anyone and certainly portrays Bean doing what he does best; being ridiculous. Mr. Bean’s Holiday doesn’t have the substance to fly off store shelves, but in the midst of everything that is out there, if there ever was a film just to watch as a family, eat popcorn, and laugh, this could be it.
As for the extras on the disc for Mr. Bean’s Holiday they aren’t so bad. They cover all the basics, interviews of actors, the director, all the good stuff that special features should be. There’s a look at the film itself and Mr. Bean’s story, one at the opportunity to film during the actual Cannes festival, and one specifically at Rowan Atkinson and his ability to play Mr. Bean. There are also deleted scenes if anyone wants to see what could have been.
There is no audio commentary however, which is a personal necessity. Not that anyone would expect Bean to talk on a commentary, but Atkinson or director Steve Bendelack could. The extras that are there are great extras, but not enough. Of note though is the fact that the DVD comes with an offer most people can refuse. When you buy Bean and The Land Before Time: The Wisdom of Friends, Volume 13 (featuring Cuba Gooding Jr.) you can save $5 bucks at the register! Now, who in the hell is going to be in the store, A) buying either of these, and B) so excited to see both combined together to save a Lincoln that they purchase both? I don’t want to know that person! There is no Christmas tree big enough to hold the verbal tongue lashings one would receive in my house if they found both of those DVDs wrapped up under the tree on Xmas morn. Besides, no sense of financial responsibility for saving the five dollars could ever justify spending the extra fifteen that it took to buy both.
If there were an audio commentary, or bloopers, or even footage or still shots of the French landscape that would be something. If the best a company has to offer in buying on DVD is whether or not you get a deal when you buy another movie, that’s pretty sad. Mr. Bean’s Holiday is a decent little movie, but the extras aren’t quite enough to support it. The studio was on the right track with what is on the disc; those extras had more pulp than the film itself, there just isn't enough of it.