MR. BEAN'S HOLIDAY Studio: Universal Original Release: 2007 Length: 1 hour 26 mins Genre: Comedy Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Color/B&W: Color Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 French Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French Rating: G Release Date: November 27, 2007 Rating: 2 / Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Emma De Caunes and Willem DaFoe Story by: Simon McBurney Screenplay by: Hamish McColl and Robin Driscoll Directed by: Steve Bendelack Mr. Bean’s Holiday is purportedly the final appearance by Rowan Atkinson as his famous alter-ego, the bumbling Mr. Bean. Originally seen on British television, and then on the big screen in 1997’s Bean, Atkinson’s title character has retained a central obliviousness to the slapstick effect he tends to have on the world around him, but for this film he has at least learned some sensitivity to the people in it. The plot of the film is wafer-thin. Mr. Bean apparently wins a trip to France along with a video camera to document it. We then spend over 80 minutes with him as he bumbles his way across France to get to Cannes and the sea. There’s not a lot of dialogue in the film, as Mr. Bean tends not to speak much. Essentially, we’re watching a string of physical sight gags, usually instigated by Mr. Bean finding himself in unfamiliar territory and either reacting in the worst possible way or obliviously generating a chain reaction that magnifies around him. For me, a lot of this got tiresome in a hurry. But I will admit there were a few inspired subtle gags here and there. In one scene, we see a refined Maitre’d feeding Mr. Bean oysters in a restaurant. In another scene later on, we see the same Maitre’d on his break answering his phone, while he eats what looks like a fast food hamburger. (I’m not worried about the spoiler effect there, as it’s a throwaway moment anyway that does not impact the main story) And the whole thing ends with an elegant sight gag that did bring a smile. But it certainly feels like a long way to go for a movie that’s less than 90 minutes long. The film has a “G” rating, and should be okay for the whole family to watch. It’s just a question of whether the family’s taste runs to Mr. Bean or not. VIDEO QUALITY: 3/5 Mr. Bean’s Holiday is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer that is fairly colourful and detailed, but not spectacular. There are some nice touches here and there – the detail of Mr. Bean’s tweed jacket early on comes across well, as does the difference between the frequently used video camera footage and the film footage of Mr. Bean’s antics. AUDIO QUALITY: 3/5 Mr. Bean’s Holiday is presented in a lively Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English, Spanish and French. There is very little use of the surrounds in this mix, other than for the occasional music cues. There is one mock combat sequence that makes a little more use of everything and the subwoofer, but that’s about it. The rest of the sound sits in the front channels, and there isn’t that much dialogue to begin with. SPECIAL FEATURES: 2 ½/5 ½ Mr. Bean’s Holiday contains a little over 45 total minutes of deleted scenes and featurettes. Deleted Scenes - (23:53 total, Non-anamorphic) – Nearly 24 minutes of non-anamorphic deleted material is presented here. This is a series of additional sight gags or character moments that are fitfully interesting to see, but which are clearly unnecessary to drive the action forward. The last bit presented is an alternate opening to the performance of “La Mer” that finishes the movie, and like the previous material, it’s simply unnecessary. French Beans - (11:24, Anamorphic) - This anamorphic featurette consists of the usual interviews with cast, director and writer, intercut with on-set footage and film footage. There’s not a lot of meat here – just the usual mutual compliments. Atkinson acknowledges the film’s clear debt to Tati’s Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, but with the caveat that the current film actually reverses the situation from the earlier story. There is some discussion that this film is a little closer to the original Bean character than the first film, and an acknowledgement that the film was set in France specifically to allow Mr. Bean to work without language for much of the time, and be able to be a small figure in a wide open space. Story writer Simon McBurney reveals how his grand-uncle bragged of never having a problem traveling because he knew the word for “Thank You” in French: “Gracias”. Beans in Cannes - (5:48, Anamorphic) – This featurette focuses on the climactic sequence at Cannes, showing us interviews and on-set footage of the cast (all but Atkinson) being allowed to film on the red carpet during the Cannes premiere of another film. The Human Bean (6:12, Anamorphic) – This is mostly a series of interviews with Atkinson and other cast members about the character of Mr. Bean and the fun people had working with Atkinson. There’s a lot of material that could have been mined here. His character owes a lot more perhaps to Harold Lloyd’s shenanigans than to Charlie Chaplin, but there’s still something there to discuss. There could certainly have been a discussion of the evolution of the character from his beginnings to the current film, and there certainly should have been a mention if this is intended to be Atkinson’s final portrayal of the character, as he has said elsewhere. Unfortunately, none of this is included in the featurette. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish for the film itself and for the special features. A standard chapter menu is included for quick reference. When the first disc is initially started, the viewer is presented with an optional series of non-anamorphic previews including Veggietales: The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything and the movie and TV series of The Land Before Time. IN THE END... Mr. Bean’s Holiday is certain to be a good time for fans of Rowan Atkinson’s character, and it’s something the whole family can watch without much trouble. It may be a little harder to watch if the character doesn’t appeal as much or if you’re looking for anything deeper. When it comes to slapstick and sight gags, though, they’re Atkinson’s stock in trade and he’s one of the best at that game. Kevin Koster November 28, 2007.