Bean – Hapless English security guard, Mr Bean, is sent to the Grierson Art Gallery in Los Angeles who are under the impression that he is an art expert who will give an important speech on their new exhibit, Whistler’s Mother. Curator, David Langley, is initially proud to accommodate ‘Dr’ Bean but it soon becomes clear that he may not be the professional he thought he was. With Mr Bean accidentally ruining David’s life at almost every turn, will his big moment be utterly obliterated?
Bean (1997) – Director: Mel Smith
Running Length: 99 mins
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Peter MacNicol, Pamela Reed
Classic ’90’s English comedy character, Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson) gets his first big screen outing in ‘Bean’ which sees him travel across the pond to introduce America to his accidentally destructive ways. Bearing the brunt of this is Art Gallery Director, David Langley (Peter MacNicol), whose enthusiasm quickly diminishes when Bean’s visit results in his family leaving home and the beloved painting, Whistler’s Mother, being destroyed. MacNicol plays the hysterical despair both brilliantly and hilariously; his ever decreasing grip on the positives in his life bringing him to the brink of insanity.
Bringing Bean to American audiences in such an acute way may not have been the best way to introduce the character whose over-the-top silliness even divides viewers in his home country, but his irreverent, very British humour is on top form for fans and his child-like persona is extremely likeable. Often likened to silent movie stars due to his mostly mute performance and visual jokes with plenty of slapstick comedy, Mr Bean may not be unique in his actions but is certainly a one-of-a-kind hero due to the incredibly talented Rowan Atkinson who is unrecognisable from his other famous alter-ego, the suave and devious Edmund Blackadder.
While it is understandable why ‘Bean’ was not well received on his first cinematic experience, those who like this style of comedy will no doubt be entertained by this hapless, clumsy, selfish but well-meaning and downright bizarre character.
IS ‘BEAN’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
When Bean first arrives in America, he sees some cops in the airport who are carrying guns. This is something that is highly unusual (and a little bit exciting) for English people who are not used to seeing guns openly displayed. This naivety causes Bean to pretend to be carrying a gun of his own by holding his hand in the shape of a gun and ‘hiding’ it inside his jacket. The cops see his suspicious activity and confront him, making him panic and flee from them. They eventually stop him and draw their weapons on him, Bean is visibly terrified and pulls his hand ‘gun’ out of his jacket and the cops immediately relax although they are annoyed by his behaviour. This ‘comedic’ moment could potentially influence young, impressionable children and is certainly not advisable in the current state of the world (this film pre-dates the September 11 attacks).
When in a bathroom, Bean accidentally sprays the front of his trousers with water, making it look like he has wet himself. He turns on a hand dryer and uses it to dry his crotch area. As he starts, another man walks out of a cubicle and sees him, from behind, with one leg in the air and seemingly humping the hand dryer and humming which the man mistakes for Bean pleasuring himself. The man doesn’t really say anything, he just looks concerned at what his is seeing and, when Mr Bean realises he is there, becomes extremely embarrassed. Later, when his crotch area is dry, he proudly puts his hands in his pockets and pushing them forwards to the bemusement of those around him.
At a theme park, Bean becomes bored on a ride and afterwards, tampers with the controls which makes the ride dangerous (but clearly more exciting!), people scream in fear and are thrown from their seats. As Mr Bean loves the second ride and is oblivious to the carnage around him, this could encourage some kids to copy his actions.
A male character gets into the shower and is shortly afterwards joined by another man. As the shower is full of steam, the second man is clearly unaware that the cubicle is occupied and after a couple of seconds, they both scream making it clear that this is entirely accidental. A few seconds later, one of the men answers the telephone from inside the shower and tells the caller ‘he’s here in the shower with me’. The first man is embarrassed and ends the call quickly, he then quickly closes the shower door, knowing the he and the other man are both in there.
David becomes hysterical during one of Mr Bean’s blunders, convinced that his life is ruined, he says ‘my daughter becomes a prostitute…(I’m) sharing a cell with Butch McDick!’
Two characters are seen in a bar, one on soft drinks and the other with alcohol, drowning their sorrows. Afterwards, they both stumble down the road, staggering and slurring their words and singing loudly, seemingly drunk.
A young boy says ‘I can’t stop thinking about naked women’ and when another says he’s been thinking of Whistler’s Mother (in a non-sexual way), the boy says ‘whatever turns you on…I’ve got some great pictures of Cindy Crawford on my wall’.
A character puts laxatives in a security guard’s coffee and makes it difficult for them to get to the bathroom. While this is mostly funny, the man is seen to suffer with severe stomach pain and with his desperation to get to a toilet. The following day he is seen in a hospital, still groaning and rushing to the toilet.
A man gets mistaken for a doctor at a hospital and before he can explain who he is, is put into a gown, a surgical mask and pushed into an operating theatre where an unconscious patient awaits surgery. When all the other doctors and nurses are called away on emergency the man passes the time by throwing a sweet into the air and trying to catch it in his mouth, however his mask causes the sweet to fall into the patient’s open chest cavity (nothing graphic is seen). The man then reaches inside the man’s chest, removes a bullet which he then puts back and then retrieves his sweet. It has blood on it which he swills in some water and then eats.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT – IS ‘BEAN’ FOR KIDS?
‘Bean’ may not be to everyone’s tastes but it is bound to be an enjoyable romp for those who enjoy plenty of visual and slapstick humour. With some adult dialogue and moments that impressionable kids could copy, we feel this movie is appropriate for kids aged six and over.
- Violence: 1/5
- Emotional Distress: 1/5 (a girl has is in a vehicle accident and ends up in a coma and her parents are shown to be out of their minds with worry.
- Fear Factor: 0/5
- Sexual Content: 1/5 (some mild sexual dialogue)
- Bad Language: 1/5 (infrequent blasphemy. A character sees someone holding up their middle finger in order to curse at him but he mistakes this for friendliness and waves his middle finger at lots of other people)
- Dialogue: 1/5 (a young boy asks his father what an intrauterine device (IUD) is)
- Other Notes: Deals with themes of family, accepting someone for who they are, making your mistakes right, ingenuity, friendship and loyalty.
Words by Laura Record