BEAN, featuring the antics of slapstick comedian Rowan Atkinson,
opened first in Germany and Portugal, where it was a big hit. Atkinson
with his almost mute acting shtick grunts a lot in the movie but speaks
very little, probably no more than a hundred words in the entire
picture. His style of comedy lives or dies based upon how funny you
find his exaggerated physical humor.
Atkinson became famous in Britain and elsewhere with his
"Blackadder" television series. American audience may know him best as
the tongue-tied priest in FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL.
Although his fans may find BEAN well worth their time, others may
find this 1:30 film about 1:27 too long. There is probably enough
humorous material in BEAN for a "Saturday Night Live" skit, but as a
full-length movie it does little more than provide an opportunity to
get to know your watch better. The dull and relatively ugly
cinematography by Francis Kenny does not help break the film's tedium.
Rowan Atkinson plays a guard named Mr. Bean who works at the
National Gallery of Art in London. When the board, who views him as
the worst employee they've ever had, is unable to fire him, they pawn
him off as an art expert to the Grierson Gallery in Los Angeles. The
Grierson Gallery, thanks to a generous donation, has purchased
"Whistler's Mother." "Dr." Bean is supposed to speak at the picture's
Burt Reynolds, in one of his many throw-away roles, plays the
museum's benefactor, General Newton. "I don't know the difference
between a Picasso and a car crash," he admits.
The curator of the Grierson Gallery, David Langley (Peter
MacNicol), takes the crude Dr. Bean to stay with his family. After his
wife, Alison (Pamela Reed), meets this guy with spastic lips, bug eyes,
and the ability to destroy precious objects in nanoseconds, she leaves
town and takes the kids.
Alison is the smartest one in the film and the only one who had
the good sense to walk out. Let me give you a flavor of the brand of
humor which the movie relishes. We have Bean with a cigarette lighter
up his nose one time and tissue stuck up it another. He bursts a full
barf bag over one of his fellow plane passengers. He makes obscene
gestures at strangers from his car. And mainly he makes several
variations of the classic funny face in which one contorts every facial
"Stay here and do nothing," advises David as his cure for the
disaster prone Bean. "If you do nothing, nothing can go wrong." Bean,
of course, ignores this advice. So we get more grunting and grimacing.
At the end, when David is finally able to end his troubles, and
mine, by putting Bean on a plane back to Britain, David has one parting
thought. "You could come back and visit anytime in the fairly distant
future," he says. I agree -- very distant.
Copyright © 1997 Steve Rhodes