DanvilleSanRamon.com

Living - September 7, 2007

Movie review: Mr. Bean's Holiday **

Rating: G for general audiences. Run Time: 1 hours, 30 minutes.

With a tip of the beret to Jacques Tati's "Mr. Hulot's Holiday," Rowan Atkinson romps from England to the French Riviera as Monsieur Bean, causing mayhem wherever he goes. Although the British star's silly-putty face and beanpole frame serve his iconic character well, watching director Steve Bendelack's sluggish comedy feels like a five-hour train trip from Paris to Cannes.

A dumb-and-dumber script relies on Atkinson's near-wordless comic shtick to carry the first act. First-time feature screenwriter Hamish McColl, working from fellow actor Simon McBurney's story, sets up a series of comedy cliches as Mr. Bean wins a holiday trip and camcorder to record all of its splendor. From spilling coffee on a computer to mugging in front of the camera lens, Mr. Bean's antics look like all-too-familiar replays of comedies past.

The slight narrative turns on a single complication. Mr. Bean causes a film director (Karel Roden of "The Bourne Supremacy") to miss boarding the train to Cannes, leaving his upset son Stepan (Max Baldry of television's "Rome") unaccompanied upon departure. The rest of the comedy of errors deals with the well-intentioned Englishman's attempts to reunite the boy with his father.

Along the way, Mr. Bean bumbles onto the set of a commercial directed by Carson Clay (Willem Dafoe of "Inside Man") and starring winsome ingenue Sabine (Emma de Caunes of "The Science of Sleep") - both heading to the Festival de Cannes for the premiere of Clay's feature. By the time all parties converge at the celebrated film festival and vacation spot, the satisfying climax seems too long in coming.

"Mr. Bean's Holiday" has fun playing with communication problems among those who don't speak a common language. Inappropriately uttering a simple "oui" or "gracias" can cause unexpected calamity. One set piece takes place in a French restaurant where the hungry Mr. Bean unknowingly orders a seafood platter from the marvelous character actor Jean Rochefort ("The Man on the Train"). More inspired silliness occurs when the Brit gets the bright idea to earn much-needed Euros as a street performer, quickly running through a lip-synched medley that transcends language and touches those watching.

Taking aim at self-absorbed filmmakers, amateur and professional, emerges as another strong thematic target. If only the comedy produced as many laughs as things to say.

--Susan Tavernetti

For more movie reviews or local show times, go to www.DanvilleWeekly.com

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