Being a comedian can be challenging to a lot of actors. And I don’t just consider stand up comedians who know how to find the funny in everyday life through monologue, but I want to examine physical comedians. These are the people that use their movement and mannerisms to generate laughter. I happen to like both styles of comedy, but when you consider how much character can come from someone like Charlie Chaplin’s the Tramp without saying a word, that takes a lot of creativity. When I see a performer with a lot of movement in their routine, it’s easy to become excited as much as they are.
A lot of my idols are comedians that rely on their physical body and surroundings to make people laugh because it’s universally sound. Comedians are tougher to sell worldwide, as some people may not understand something that may be present in the performers routine. What are the odds that an Italian will recognize a Taco Bell joke? The Tramp (again, Charlie Chaplin) is iconic because with no dialogue to translate, international audiences only had to focus on where he was going, and how ordinary life’s misfortunes were going turn his day into a slapstick filled ride. There have been a handful of characters that have displayed great physical comedy, one of them being Mr. Bean.
For those that are unfamiliar with this guy, Mr. Bean is a nearly silent man in London who uses his bizarre attitude to get through life. He interacts with people and goes shopping on a daily basis, but he’s always curious about anything, and it often leads him into trouble. Bean sees his life as normal, but the rest of the world feels awkward around him. Is he an alien? Maybe. Is he autistic? Possibly. His British TV series Mr. Bean remains one of the funniest comedies around and is recognized worldwide…except for the USA. Bean finally makes his way stateside in his movie debut, Bean.
Mr. Bean (played by Rowan Atkinson) works as a security guard at the Royal National Gallery in London. The Gallery’s board of directors decides to send him to the United States along with the famous Whistler’s Mother painting that had been acquired by a Los Angeles museum. Unaware that he’s actually being sent to be rid of, Mr. Bean arrives in California, already causing trouble with the local police when he’s surprised that American officers carry firearms. The rest of the movie involves him living with an American family, the Langelys. The father, David Langely (played by Peter MacNicol) is not only the curator of the same museum, but is responsible for everything Mr. Bean does.
I’ll admit that if I wanted to introduce people to Mr. Bean, this movie wouldn’t be my first choice. Bean stirred a lot of controversy when it was decided to Americanize the setting around him. I have no problem sending him to that States, but that’s going to result in some conflicting styles of comedy. It’s not that big an issue, but what I do have a problem with is that the character seems to be trying too hard to impress his American audience.
Unless you’ve seen him on TV, then you may be left scratching your head to wondering why this guy behaves the way he does. This movie could have used a little more time establishing Mr. Bean as the burden of Brittan. But coming from someone who has seen his show, does his performance pay off? Well except for the repeat sketches from the show, I did laugh at Mr. Bean trying to tweak an Amusement Park ride and trying to play off being an Art professor. What doesn’t work is his position in Bean. Rather then having the film follow him in his daily routine, he’s reduced to becoming a character in someone else’s scenario. The TV series knew better to make him our focus, rather then having to focus on the story. While the story of going to America and an Art museum isn’t bad, it’s not as interesting as it could have been. Much of the Americanized dialogue can be somewhat distracting around Mr. Bean’s bumbling antics. But he still manages to make the movie somewhat his own.
I’ll give this three teddy’s out of five. I think you’d enjoy Bean better if you saw the TV series first. It’s not a hundred percent necessary, but it helps. If you don’t like the series, then Bean will probably not sway you. Mr. Bean gets some of his famous physical comedy in, it just needed a lot more.