Mr. Bean’s Holiday: Rowan Atkinson Is Less Awful Than Usual

Unlike the first overbaked Bean feature, this sequel, directed by Britcom veteran Steve Bendelack, doesn't rely on refried versions of Rowan Atkinson's occasionally interminable TV skits but rather feels like a complete and coherent film that just happens to star a gibbering loon. When he wins a trip to Paris in a raffle, Mr. Bean (Atkinson) initially seems to be the ultimate Ugly Englishman abroad, all cultural cluelessness and unappealing arrogance. But after his antics result in the separation of a young Russian boy (Max Baldry) from his father (Karel Roden), the dippy Bean develops a conscience and sets out to reunite the kid with his dad in Cannes, along the way invoking the likes of Jacques Tati and Pee-wee Herman. It may be a stretch to call this mugging moron sympathetic, but it's surprising how enjoyable Mr. Bean can be when he's actually given a hint of humanity. Bean carries a camcorder to Cannes, telegraphing the final joke a bit—but it turns out to be far better than you'd imagine, especially with Willem Dafoe cheesing things up as a pretentious auteur.

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