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Among the most influential names in physical comedy (from Charlie Chaplin to Chris Farley), Rowan Atkinson easily deserves a place on that list. The British writer, actor, and producer earned it the moment he made his debut as Mr. Bean - a character he created in the late 1980s with filmmaker Richard Curtis, who would later cast his longtime writing partner in films of his own, such as 2003's Love Actually. That is just one of the many Rowan Atkinson movies and TV shows that are a must for any fan of this iconic and (by today’s standards) somewhat underrated talent, starting with another one of he and Curtis’ greatest achievements.
The bumbling schemes of the self-centered, sniveling Duke of Edinburgh (Rowan Atkinson) and his descendants are the focus of this long-running collection of miniseries.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rowan Atkinson: Originally a Shakespearean satire from creator Richard Curtis, Blackadder evolved into an entire franchise of hilarious tales of revisionist history (and even a rewrite of A Christmas Carol) all with star and co-writer Rowan Atkinson in common.
The Thin Blue Line (Amazon Rental)
An uptight British inspector struggles to maintain order at the police station he is in charge of, in spite of the bumbling members of his staff.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rowan Atkinson: One of the writers of Blackadder, Ben Elton, would go on to create The Thin Blue Line (not to be confused with the Errol Morris documentary) - a send up of crime TV shows that ran for two season in the mid-1990s and stars Rowan Atkinson in the lead as, surprisingly, one of the more competent characters of the cast.
Hot Shots! Part Deux (Amazon Rental)
A former U.S. Air Force pilot (Charlie Sheen) must take on a series of increasingly absurd action movie cliches in order to retrieve a rescue team that was sent in to locate a rescue team that was sent to find a group of soldiers held captive in Iraq.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rowan Atkinson: Speaking of send-ups, one of the most unapologetically consistently insane parody movies of all time is 1993’s Hot Shots! Part Deux, the sequel to the 1991 hit from one of the directors of Airplane!, which stars Rowan Atkinson as a POW Charlie Sheen’s character is sent in to rescue.
Four Weddings And A Funeral (Amazon Prime, Showtime, Pluto TV)
A young, British bachelor (Hugh Grant) attends several social occasions over a short period of time, becoming more convinced of his feeling toward an American woman (Andie McDowell) each time.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rowan Atkinson: Imagine what would happen if Mr. Bean became a wedding officiant and you would essentially have Rowan Atkinson’s scene-stealing performance in Four Weddings and Funeral - the classic 1994 romantic comedy which earned Atkinson’s frequent collaborator, Richard Curtis, an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Love Actually (Netflix, IMDb TV)
A washed up pop star (Bill Nighy), a pair of stand-ins for a pornographic film (Martin Freeman and Joanna Page), the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant), and many others each have unique and disastrous experiences with love during Christmastime in London.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rowan Atkinson: Writer and director Richard Curtis cast his friend Rowan Atkinson in another scene-stealing role as a persnickety jeweler in Love Actually, which is also one of the best romantic comedy movies ever made, in my opinion.
Rat Race (HBO Max)
A disgraced former NFL referee (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a woman (Whoopi Goldberg) meeting her long-lost daughter for the first time, a family man (Jon Lovitz) who can barely afford to take his family on vacation, and other strangers try to be the first to reach a $2 million prize hidden in New Mexico.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rowan Atkinson: Imagine if Mr. Bean was a narcoleptic, Italian Las Vegas tourist and you would essentially have his fittingly zany character in Rat Race - an unofficial modern update of It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, from another one of the Airplane! directors, Jerry Zucker.
The Lion King (Disney+)
A lion (Matthew Broderick) returns to his home in the African Pride Lands to reclaim the throne from his corrupt uncle after learning the truth behind his father’s death.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rowan Atkinson: Rowan Atkinson lends his voice to one of the most acclaimed Disney animated movies, 1994’s The Lion King, as comic relief: Zazu, the red-billed hornbill who serves as Mufasa’s royal advisor.
The Witches (Amazon Rental)
While on a holiday with his grandmother, a young boy discovers that their hotel is the site for a gathering of evil witches whose leader (Anjelica Huston) turns him into a mouse after they catch him spying.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rowan Atkinson: Imagine if Mr. Bean was an uptight hotel manager and you would essentially have Rowan Atkinson’s role in 1990’s The Witches as Mr. Stringer, whom Stanley Tucci would play for the HBO Max exclusive update of the Road Dahl novel in 2020.
Scooby-Doo (HBO Max)
Years after Mystery Inc. disbanded so its members could go their separate ways, Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma (Linda Cardellini), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), and Scooby are brought together to investigate strange behavior happening on Spooky Island.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rowan Atkinson: Again, if Mr. Bean were the eccentric owner of a horror-themed amusement park on a tropical getaway destination, you would, essentially, have Atkinson's role as Emile Mondavarious (or so he claims to be) in 2002’s live action Scooby-Doo movie - yet another spooky, but relatively family-friendly adventure based on a beloved property.
The Johnny English Movies
A fatal attack at a funeral for a late spy allows a wannabe MI6 agent (Rowan Atkinson) the chance to finally live his dream by stopping a ruthless French entrepreneur (John Malkovich) from usurping the British throne, protecting the Chinese Premier from international assassins, and coming out of retirement to hunt down an elusive hacker - all while making a series of disastrous mistakes along the way.
Why they are worth checking out if you like Rowan Atkinson: In this case, if Mr. Bean were James Bond you'd (more than just essentially) have Rowan Atkinson’s role as the title character of this trilogy of spy movie send-ups that begins with 2003’s Johnny English, is reborn with 2011’s Johnny English Reborn, and strikes again with Johnny English Strikes Again in 2018, with some of the comedian’s most fun work all the way through.
Never Say Never Again (Amazon Rental)
An aging 007 is reinstated and tasked with hunting down his old nemesis, Ernst Blofeld, before he causes a disaster with stolen nuclear warheads.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rowan Atkinson: What is fascinatingly coincidental about Rowan Atkinson’s role as a bumbling sorta Bond in the Johnny English movies is that he appears alongside the late Sean Connery in 1983’s Never Say Never Again - which is technically a James Bond movie - as an incompetent representative of the British Embassy with a ridiculous name (Nigel Small-Fawcett) years before he became a household name.
Mr. Bean Movies And TV Shows
Aided by his own dim wit and his only friend (a stuffed bear named Teddy), an immature adult loner (Rowan Atkinson) struggles to achieve simple, day-to-day tasks while living in London, when hired to bring a valuable painting to a Los Angeles, on a trip to France, and wherever else he ends up.
Why they are worth checking out if you like Rowan Atkinson: What did make Rowan Atkinson a household name was playing the brilliantly funny, internationally recognized title “hero” of the original Mr. Bean TV show from 1990 to 1995, which led to appearances as the goofy man-child in numerous specials, advertisements, two movies (the simply titled Bean in 1995 and 2007’s Mr. Bean’s Holiday), and an animated series in 2002 for which Atkinson also returned to voice the character.
Apparently, Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis are preparing to bring Mr. Bean back again for a new series that would feature a grumpier, elder version of the character called Old Bean. This could officially be the last that we see of the character because, according to The Sun, the responsibility and effort required to play him has driven Atkinson to “look forward to the end of it.” Luckily, the countless and consistently hilarious moments we have had with Atkinson as the character are already worth a lifetime.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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