[Screen It]


(1997) (Rowan Atkinson, Peter MacNicol) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Minor Minor Minor Mild
Heavy None Minor None Minor
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Mild Minor Mild Minor Mild

Comedy: A bumbling, walking disaster of a man is mistaken by an American art gallery as a British art scholar.
Mr. Bean (ROWAN ATKINSON) is a mostly silent, but continually bumbling employee at a London art museum. The board of directors wants to fire him because all he does is sleep when he's not just staring at the artwork, but the board's chairman refuses to let them do that. Thus, the board sends him on a sabbatical to a Los Angeles art gallery that has requested a "great scholar" to talk about their latest acquisition, "Whistler's Mother." It seems a right-wing military man, General Newton (BURT REYNOLDS) has donated money for the famous painting, and the gallery's director, George Grierson (HARRIS YULIN) and his curator, David Langley (PETER MacNICOL), are both surprised at the scholar's appearance and demeanor when he arrives for their grand revealing ceremonies. They assume Bean's just eccentric, and David, who's already invited Bean to stay with him, brings the man home much to the dismay of wife Alison (PAMELA REED), daughter Jennifer (TRICIA VESSEY) and son Kevin (ANDY LAWRENCE). Soon Bean's innocent, bumbling ways threaten not only the Langley's marriage, but also the famous painting.
If they're familiar with Rowan Atkinson's character (perhaps from HBO), or have seen commercials for this movie, they might. However, Bean certainly isn't as well known in America as he is elsewhere around the world, and thus there may be a limited appeal.
For moments of risque humor.
  • ROWAN ATKINSON plays a bumbling man who innocently creates havoc wherever he goes. His many odd -- and often funny -- mannerisms may invoke imitative behavior in some kids.
  • PETER MacNICOL plays the museum's curator who slowly finds his world unraveling due to Bean's behavior.


    OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
    Based on the long running British TV comedy "Mr. Bean," this is actor Rowan Atkinson's (the priest in "Four Weddings & A Funeral") first appearance on the big screen as the bumbling, but good-hearted character. Known better overseas than in the States (where he's been seen in a few HBO specials), this film introduces America to another rubbery faced comic whose mere appearance can induce gut wrenching laughter. Much like that other man of many comic faces, Jim Carrey, Atkinson has perfected so many comic looks that just watching him is a pleasure in itself. While Carrey has perfected the over-the-top, in-your-face performance (think of his "Ace Ventura" movies), Atkinson's Bean character is more subdued, but still very funny.

    The thing that sets him apart from most every other recent, and similar, comic characters is that Bean rarely speaks. Of course this film breaks that tradition by having him deliver an awkwardly funny speech at the end, but for the most part he delivers just one or two croaky responses that make him only that much funnier. For by doing so, he creates a character who's so inside himself and oblivious to his behavioral repercussions, that he never comes across as aggressive or belligerent (as some of Carrey's creations have in the past). Thus, no matter what he does, or rarely says, he's always liked by the audience that is equally charmed by his innocent demeanor and his occasional childlike showing off. Thus, he comes across as the exaggerated epitome of our own desire to be childlike, mixed with all of our everyday goofs, slip ups, and accidents.

    Unfortunately, Atkinson isn't given much of a plot with which to work (that's partly his fault since he co-wrote the screenplay), and most of the material is there just to set up Bean's reaction to the next plot element or location. Of course that's perfectly fine and many other movies have taken a similar tactic where they just let the comedic character go to town with a simple set-up. However, the scenes when Atkinson isn't present are terribly boring and certainly not funny. In essence, this plot is much like that found in many TV variety shows. A simple, but certainly not hilarious plot is introduced (a simple, bumbling man is mistaken for an art critic) and the sketch's or film's success then rests squarely on the comedian's ability to create funny moments from that situation. Atkinson succeeds, but one only wishes the plot had more substance and was inherently more humorous to make the overall experience that much enjoyable.

    Don't get us wrong, there are many funny moments in the film. Atkinson's facial gestures alone -- that cover nearly every emotional look -- are hilarious. There are also some great moments of physical comedy, including a rather long sequence involving Bean's embarrassment over accidentally splashing water onto his crotch and then having to hide that fact. Yet mixed with that are weak elements, such as a guard frantically having to get into a bathroom after Bean has spiked his coffee with laxatives. Additionally, the end of the movie tries to find humor out of strange subjects such as comatose patients and gunshot victims. Neither of them is funny to begin with, and the comedy that follows feels rather forced and certainly isn't as funny as earlier material. During that time, the film also steals a scene from TV's "Seinfeld" where candy falls into a surgical opening, and Jerry and company handled it much better several years ago in their program than is done here.

    Still, it's Bean's innocence and good-hearted nature that give you a warm fuzzy feeling after the movie is over and several good memories of some clearly funny moments in the film. We just hope that should there be another Bean movie -- it's already grossed more than $100 million overseas as of this review, so the odds are pretty good we'll see Bean again -- that they'll write a better, and funnier script from which Atkinson can generate more hilarious moments. You'll laugh out loud many times during this movie, but that will be from the rubbery faced comic's performance, and not from the movie in general that itself is a rather flimsy shell. For that reason, we give "Bean" a 7 out of 10.

    Probably the biggest issue of concern with this movie is all of the behavior that kids may imitate. While most of it is relatively harmless, a few acts (pouring a laxative in a person's coffee, giving people "the finger," and stuffing non-microwave food into a microwave, among others) are probably better left alone. The PG-13 rating comes from "moments of risque humor" that refers to a painting of a nude woman (we see the side of her bare breast) and to a pelvic thrusting scene in a men's room. Of course everything's played for laughs and little is meant to be taken at face value. Still, you should read through the content if you or your children wish to see this film.

  • People drink champagne on an airplane.
  • George and his wife show up at David's house with champagne. Later, David serves them cocktails.
  • People drink in a bar where evidently Bean and David have also been drinking. We later see them drunkenly singing and walking down a street.
  • Bean tries to pop a bag full of air above a sleeping man's head on an airplane. A boy who's just thrown up in a sick bag gives his bag to Bean, who unknowingly pops it over the man's head, spreading bits of vomit everywhere (played for laughs).
  • Bean puts his hand into a man's surgical incision (blocked from our view) and pulls out a slightly bloody piece of candy as well as a bullet. His gloves are also consequently a bit bloody.
  • Jennifer comments that "All Englishmen are ugly."
  • Some may view Bean's actions as disrespectful, but none of them are inherently meanspirited or disrespectful.
  • A little dramatically tense music accompanies a scene where airport security guards chase Bean, finally catch him, and aim their guns at him, all of which may be a little tense for younger kids, but not for many adults.
  • Likewise, there's an operating room scene where a doctor urgently describes a bleeding patient's condition, and another involving a teen in a coma after a motorcycle accident that may be a tiny bit unsettling for very young viewers, but not for most others.
  • Handguns: Drawn and aimed at Bean by airport security guards after they think he's armed.
  • Handgun: Drawn by a cop and aimed at a suspect. We then hear a gunshot, and later see that cop in the emergency room with a bullet wound.
  • Phrases: "Are you feelin' lucky, punk?" "Screwed up," "Idiot," and "Fruitcake."
  • Bean makes many odd, distorted faces and weird sounds that some kids may imitate. Also, Kevin pulls up his eyelids, rolls back his eyes and makes a strange face.
  • Bean shaves his face, then his forehead, and finally his tongue with an electric razor.
  • Short on time, Bean forgoes making coffee the regular way and quickly eats a spoonful of coffee grounds, several spoons of sugar and then washes it down with hot water straight from the kettle.
  • Bean blows his nose in a loud, prolonged fashion which is irritating to a woman, but isn't intentionally done to be that way.
  • Bean acts like his hand is a gun when he sees airport security guards. They see his actions and chase him down until they finally catch him at gunpoint.
  • Bean likes to throw candy up into the air and then catch it in his mouth.
  • Bean dries his underwear in the oven.
  • Bean exaggeratedly shows off his now dry crotch (that had earlier been soaked from accidentally splashing water there) to David and others at a meeting.
  • David and Bean stuff a large turkey into a microwave and set it to cook for twenty minutes. It obviously later explodes.
  • Bean puts a car's cigarette lighter up his nose and later does the same with a peanut (in its shell) and then blows it across a bar.
  • Bean pours a great deal of laxative in a security guard's cup of coffee that later incapacitates that guard.
  • Bean puts a great deal of chewing gum into his mouth.
  • A biker gives Bean "the finger." Bean then turns around and joyfully does the same to other people, not knowing what he's really doing.
  • None.
  • There's a minor amount of dramatically tense music in a few scenes.
  • None.
  • We heard 2 hells, 1 ass, 1 damn, and 5 uses of "Oh God," and 1 use each of "Jesus," "Mary, mother of Jesus," "God" and "God help me" as exclamations.
  • When David mistakenly explains that Bean is a brilliant man and can answer questions that he himself can't, Kevin responds, "Like what is an intrauterine device?"
  • We see the side of a woman's bare breast in a painting of "Whistler's Sister" that shows a nude woman posed just like "Whistler's Mother."
  • In the men's room, Bean accidentally splashes water on his crotch. He goes to a hand dryer, and stands up against it, drying his crotch. Not thinking anyone's around, he begins some pelvic thrusting toward the dryer. A man shows up, however, and sees what looks like Bean humping the wall and/or the dryer.
  • Kevin tells Bean that he can't sleep because he keeps thinking "about naked women." He then asks Bean, "What about you?" Bean replies "Whistler's Mother," to which Kevin replies, "Whatever turns you on."
  • We see a billboard featuring the Marlboro man with a cigarette.
  • Alison doesn't like Bean staying at their house and eventually takes herself and the kids to her mother's house, thus putting a strain on the marriage.
  • David learns that Jennifer was in a motorcycle accident and he rushes to join Alison at the hospital where they find their daughter in a coma-like state.
  • Art -- something most kids nowadays don't appreciate or even know about.
  • That Bean's actions are meant to amuse us, not to provide kids with behavior to imitate -- some of which is better left alone.
  • Some people are thrown from an amusement park simulator ride after Bean has reprogrammed it (none are apparently hurt).
  • A cop is shot after aiming his gun at a suspect. We don't know if he shot himself or was shot by someone else (we only hear the shot).
  • Bean accidentally shocks himself with a defibrillator and is knocked across a hospital room.

  • Reviewed November 1, 1997

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