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MR BEAN'S HOLIDAY (article first published : 2007-04-5)

Rowan Atkinson's rubbery, ridiculous, klutzy and kid-like Mr Bean is a classic character from television and I am a fan, being the proud owner of the complete box-set of the hit 90s series that has made the taciturn Brit such a global favourite.

Sadly, however, his second film outing, Mr Bean's Holiday which comes a full 10 years after Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie, and which Atkinson has sworn will mark his last appearance as the character, is a let-down.

A surprise, really, because the film-makers have taken care to learn from the mistakes of the first movie.

Unlike in the first picture, which had bulge-eyed Bean causing chaos in American art circles, they have returned the setting to Europe. The original choice of title, I hear, was the much better French Bean. They have also opted to return to the series idea of having Bean say very little. Pats on the back for that.

Where Mr Bean's Holiday stumbles, however, is in a flimsy, laboured plot that, while not without fun moments, tends to milk humour from too many situations in which Bean has been before - most notably a hungry vending machine, which echoes the first film's scene with a hand-drying machine in a public toilet.

Also, a lot of the comedy just doesn't seem to work, the slapstick having now become predictable and overly familiar. A jam-packed weekend matinee audience gave quick giggles, but precious little out-loud laughter.

Also, a lot of the comedy just doesn't seem to work, the slapstick having now become predictable and overly familiar. A jam-packed weekend matinee audience gave quick giggles, but precious little out-loud laughter.

The tale has Bean winning a church raffle prize of a holiday on the beaches of Cannes - but it's his misadventures resulting from his battle to get there that takes up the bulk of the film's running time. It starts with Bean getting into the wrong cab, missing his train and then ending up in a posh restaurant, where he takes strain trying to swallow oysters and langoustines he didn't even know he had ordered.

In between a slew of slapstick situations we have the little man becoming responsible for a lost Russian boy (Max Baldry), the son of a Russian (Karel Roden) who is travelling to be a jury member at the Cannes Film Festival. When Bean loses his money, ticket and passport, a busking scene with the boy - involving Bean dancing to Shaggy's Mr Bombastic, then lip-synching to a diva's recorded opera aria - makes for the movie's best laugh.

Before being mistaken for a kidnapper, Bean then stumbles on to the set of a yoghurt advert being shot by Palme d'Or contender Carson Clay (a camp Willem Dafoe) and meets lovely actress Sabine (Emma de Caunes). She also ends up travelling with Bean and the boy - and the grand finale takes place, not unexpectedly, at the film festival, where fun is to be had at the expense of Clay's overwhelmingly artsy-tartsy movie.

As many have noted, Mr Bean is best when he is at his most cunning, when his surface idiot meets his deeper villain. Unfortunately there are not enough of those moments in this film, which will better appreciated by kids than adults. Rating 5/10 Billy Suter




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