G-rated films are rare enough these days, but a G-rated film not meant strictly for kids? Intriguing. It was the one aspect of Mr. Bean's Holiday that caught my attention. The movie is obviously meant to appeal to a wide audience -- an international audience, in fact. Unfortunately the humor is uneven and generally tended to annoy me more than it entertained. However, fans of Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean character, from the TV show or the other movie, might feel very different about the film.
The film's humor is strictly physical, in a way that often pays homage to classic silent-film comedy or the films of Jacques Tati -- with varying degrees of success. The story is not especially important, as it's all a setup for the title character's shtick. Mr. Bean (Atkinson) is a very British, very clumsy man who rarely speaks, and then mostly in incoherent mumbles. At a gloomy church raffle, Bean wins a trip to the south of France -- specifically, to Cannes. He also wins a video camera, with which he becomes obsessed. You get the impression that the sad little man has never left his neighborhood; when he gets lost in Paris, he sets a compass in the direction where he wants to go, and walks in mid-street, over cars, through stores, to get to his destination. (I found that to be one of the funnier conceits in the film.) Through a series of misunderstandings, Bean ends up stuck in rural France with a small French boy, and they have to find a way to get to Cannes, videotaping their antics all the way. Bean also keeps running into the lovely French actress Sabine (Emma de Caunes) and a crazy American actor/director (Willem Dafoe).