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.
Atkinson prepares his European conquest.
Opens at Guild 45 and other theaters, Fri., Aug. 24. Rated G. 87 minutes.