Bean (review)

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Eenie Meenie Beanie Meanie

My introduction to the Beanster came on an overnight Virgin Atlantic flight from New York to London in 1992. This was my first time flying Virgin, and I was totally blown away by those little televisions in the seat backs. I had planned to sleep my way to London, but instead I watched telly. And one of the things I watched was an episode of Mr. Bean.
Picture the scene: The smart people all around me were sleeping, the cabin was darkened, and I was huddled under the airline-issue blanket engrossed in Bean’s shenanigans. I had to clap both hands over my mouth, stifling my laughter as best I could, so I would not wake all the good folks up from their slumber.

I was hooked.

I still love Mr. Bean. He’s totally self-absorbed in the same way that children are — everything is about him and his own amusements. He’s completely unrestrained by social niceties or consideration for others. He’s mean, nasty, vindictive, and vengeful. And he always gets away with it all.

Okay, so Mr. Bean gets a little defanged in Bean (starring Rowan Atkinson, Peter MacNicol). He’s not quite so nasty as on his television series. We are forced to feel sympathy for the victims of his hijinks because — unlike on tv — we get to see the unfortunate aftereffects of Bean’s presence. And Bean doesn’t get away with it this time — he is compelled to make amends, which at least does result in probably the funniest sequence in the film.

Of course I wish Bean was more, well, Beanie. But if Bean serves as an reintroduction to American movie audiences of the wonders of truly brilliant physical comedy, I can rest easy. And I can always go back to the videos of the tv episodes if I need a really mean Bean fix.

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