Bean (1997)
Polygram Home Video
Cast: Rowan Atkinson
Extras: Theatrical Trailers. Biographies, Music Video

Mr. Bean might not be a common household name in the US, but in his homeland England, Mr. Bean is a phenomenon with unparalleled success. After his highly successful "Black Adder" series, comedian Rowan Atkinson created Mr. Bean, an odd, crazy character who encompasses every cliché the world might associate with British people. Most of all, Mr. Bean is childishly direct, clumsy, and completely self-centered. "Bean: The Movie" has finally sparked interest in the American movie-going audiences and paved the way for international recognition of this lovable character.

In this movie, Mr. Bean is working as a museum guard in the London National Arts Gallery. Dozing off most of his time, he is completely clueless when it comes to the arts. Certain gallery staff would like to see him fired, but the eccentric Bean is a favorite of the director. When an American gallery buys the famous painting "Whistler’s Mother", Mr. Bean is chosen to escort the painting to California. The owner of the Los Angeles based "Grierson Gallery" and his curator are hopeful that "Dr. Bean", the expert coming from abroad, will not only bring the famous painting to the grand unveiling, but perhaps reveal some insightful knowledge about painting and the origins of the gallery’s new gem. Of course, in his clumsy and wacky way, Bean manages to alienate the people around him in no time, wreaking havoc with their lives. He also single-handedly destroys "Whistler’s Mother", the valuable object in question. Only hours before the official unveiling of the priceless painting he comes up with a plan to put things right… the Bean way…

The finesse with which the taciturn Mr. Bean solves the problem of coming up with an adequate speech for the unveiling and his following analysis of the classic portrait is stunning. It is exemplary in its simplicity and perfectly displays that common sense makes sense even in such vague areas as art.

As in his shorter TV shows, Rowan Atkinson’s performance as the incomparable Mr. Bean is great. Pulling his trademark faces, he makes fun of every bit of seriousness and righteousness this bizarre character encounters. Mr. Bean is a naïve, British, small-time dope who is, despite his considerable age, still sleeping cuddled up with his teddy bear. The movie’s ploy of throwing him into "big-time" Los Angeles is a perfect opportunity for Atkinson to mock the culture clash and shift in values. Nothing is sacred to him; seeing Mr. Bean playing his games with earnest sheepishness is a joyride. His childish directness and honesty, while offensive at times, are Bean’s sharpest weapon. Where the average person freezes in deference to authority and established values, he simply keeps going. Where others give up indignantly, he reiterates his position. When other people despair, Bean tries to solve problems. The world of Mr. Bean is not our world. Not any more.
His is simple, straight-forward, and happy, just as ours seemed to be when we were kids. The charming manner in which Rowan Atkinson brings across this innocent character is the movie’s greatest asset.

"Bean" comes as a dual sided disc from Polygram Home Video. The disc contains both the 1.85:1 <$PS,widescreen> and a <$PS,fullscreen>, <$OpenMatte,open matte> version of the movie on the opposite sides. The image is generally crisp and has lots of detail and deep blacks. The picture has a very natural look with solid colors and natural fleshtones. The disc also contains various of the movie’s theatrical trailers, film and cast biographies, and a cheesy little music video.

The movie features an excellent <$DD,Dolby Digital> <$5.1,5.1 channel> soundtrack that is very clear and has some subtle surrounds. Howard Goodall’s music score is excellently suited for the movie. It mickey-mouses some of the movie’s scenes like a cartoon, while going back to a wide full orchestral score for others. Goodall perfectly captures the original "British"-sounding themes of the Bean series while he is in England and smoothly progresses to more modern and open-sounding themes once Bean has made his way to America. "Bean: The Movie" comes fully dubbed in English and French with English and Spanish subtitles.

"Bean: The Movie" is a wickedly funny and silly piece of work, while yet maintaining some kind of seriousness under the surface. It puts its finger right where it tickles the most and makes those 91minutes fly by in no time, leaving you wanting more. It’s a great DVD and is highly recommended if you feel it’s time to laugh about the child in all of us.