on October 17, 1997 by PKay Krieg
Mr. Bean, deftly played and created by British thesp Rowan Atkinson, and his antics are at home on PBS in the States, but globally they know no bounds. For most people around the world, just mention the name "Bean" and you hear instant laughter. His 30-minute sketches--in which he usually wreaks havoc on just about anyone, leaving a trail of chaos behind him--are prime-time fare. "Bean" marks his full-feature debut. It was indeed a task to transform his TV character into a full-fledged, three-dimensional personage, but the finished product is well worth seeing--it's an incredibly entertaining piece of comic mayhem.
The story: Bean, never without his true friend teddy, is the most inept and detested employee at the British Royal National Gallery; the staff can't wait to dump him. When a rich benefactor (Burt Reynolds) donates $50 million to the Grierson Gallery of California to bring America's greatest painting, "Whistler's Mother," back home, the Brits see their chance. The folks at the Royal National are asked to send their finest academician to oversee travel proceedings. They decide to send not their greatest scholar but the abhorred Bean in their desperate hope of getting rid of him forever. Within days of arriving in Los Angeles, Bean has almost totally destroyed the marriage, career and life of his host (Peter MacNicol). Then the gallery's chairman (Harris Yulin) leaves Bean alone in the room with the painting--another disastrous situation.
"Bean" is truly a gag-a-minute film, even if a few of those border on the sophomoric. Thanks to Atkinson's ability to weave true emotion into his character, the audience senses that underneath that egomaniacal shell Mr. Bean does have real feelings. Watch his eyes: When he's told that he's nothing but a klutz and everything is his fault, one can feel only compassion.
The film earlier opened in Holland and Australia to fantastic results, and much of the world followed this past summer, finally reaching the States Nov. 7. None too soon: "Bean" is a clever mixture of slapstick, British humor and L.A. sunshine. In the end, after almost ruining everybody's life--and then ultimately saving the day--and with teddy safe at home, Bean cruises down Sunset Boulevard (the Randy Newman ditty "I Love L.A." blaring in the background), savoring every moment. What more could you wish for the man? Well, how about a sequel? Starring Rowan Atkinson, Peter MacNicol, Harris Yulin, Pamela Reed and Burt Reynolds. Directed by Mel Smith. Written by Richard Curtis, Robin Driscoli and Rowan Atkinson. Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Peter Bennett-Jones. A Gramercy release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for moments of risque humor. Running time: 80 min.
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