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Saturday, February 4, 2012

My 100 Worst Movies of the 90's - 53 - Bean (1997)

Bean (1997; Polygram
Filmed Entertainment)

I hate Mr. Bean.  I don’t get why people find or have found him funny.  If there was any character that didn’t justify a feature-length film, it’s Mr. Bean.  Rowan Atkinson’s groaning, grunting, over expressive, overreacting, and exceedingly silly character will claw at your senses for the duration of this film.  Bean is as relentless as it is unfunny.

The paper-thin plot centers on Mr. Bean working as an art gallery caretaker when he is commissioned to travel to the U.S. to oversee the opening of an exhibit featuring the American painting Whistler’s Mother.  However, Mr. Bean is an inept fool so every little thing he does results in some sort of massive disaster.  We get humor that would have been funny in the silent era if it were executed by a talented physical comedian like Buster Keaton, but today it seems tired, lazy and immature.

Many of the staples of British comedy is filled with a mix of high and low-brow humor. Monty Python, the films of Edgar Wright and the over-the-top antics of Guy Ritchie and the popular (and spectacular) works of Douglas Adams each have a distinctive sort of tone to them. They are irreverent, sure, but they have a charm that is often absent in their respective genres of a film made Stateside. As a fan of a lot of comedies from the UK and Europe in general, I find the fact that this character is one of the most recognized and popular British characters of the 20th century pretty sad.
Bean is one of the worst films of the 90’s almost entirely because of how popular this character is.  His shtick isn't funny for 30 minutes, and it sure as HELL isn't funny for an hour and a half. Happily, this film tanked at the box office and had to wait an entire decade (spoiler alert: the 2007 film Mr. Bean is WORSE) for a "reboot" and it was a financial flop too, grossing only $9m on opening weekend here in the US. Hanging on just outside of my bottom 50, Bean is a messy, annoying film from start to finish.  There is just something about Atkinson’s antics that has a creepiness factor firing way outside the range of acceptability.  His sneering, growling behavior would likely get anyone arrested in public, so why people find this guy entertaining is beyond my comprehension.  

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