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IN SHORT: 300% of Bean TV.
Despite what you see on TV, the Comedic Christ has not returned.
There are a lot of things in this wide world that are, at first appearance, terrifically unfunny. Large pores, for example. Large pores are terrifically unattractive and tremendously unfunny, which is why people pay huge amounts of money to luxury spas to have their pathetic bodies steamed and whacked with palm fronds and stuff like that.
Mr. Bean has large pores. He lives with 'em. (There's a point to this. I'll get to it.)
Passport photos are funny. So is Whistler's Mother, though how much fun she could be at a party is still open to debate. Bathrooms are funny. Beatles songs, God help us, are funnier the older they get. Defib units (every hospital has at least two) have always been shocking good fun and dropping candy into open surgical cavities is a classic good time.
Bean gets good jollies out of all of the above, at least 3 times as much as he normally does on the Brit TV show on which the 90 minute movie Bean is based. The best part of it all is that very little of the gags that are in the movie are used in context in the television commercials. For once, you haven't seen the best parts before you lay out your hard earned cash.
Bean is the creation of Rowan Atkinson who, if you've watched PBS without paying for it like most people do, also created the side splitting "Black Adder." TV's Bean was a great take on wordless comedy; half an hour would pass with nary a word emanating from the mouth of the lead character. That's why pantomime works worldwide. No need for translation. That barely explains why Bean sold $100 million worth of tickets worldwide before its US release.
Is Bean a classic? A perfect template of the perfect comedy? No.
Is Bean funny? Is it gonna make you laugh (not just a little, mind you, but a whole lot)?
Oh, yes in very much indeedy it is.
Any of us who have ever watched British telly (any of it) are no doubt nauseatingly aware of the practice of shooting all the indoor, on-stage scenes on videotape and all the outdoors scenes on cheap 16 millimeter film. The multimillion dollar production of Bean goes for the latter look. It looks like cheap 16 millimeter (though it's probably cheap 35 millimeter). It inflicts a story on top of a veritable ton of wordless gags -- something about the layabout Bean being best friends with the Chairman of a British Art museum -- which gives the movie a base, but is relatively unnecessary once Atkinson gets cooking. [If you must know, the Board of Said Museum wants Bean gone, so he's packed off to LA as an eccentric art historian genius. There, he will inadvertently destroy almost everything and everyone (one way or another) that crosses his path.]
TV actors Peter MacNicol and Pamela Reed fill space. Burt Reynolds flushes all the chops he showed in Boogie Nights down the toilet.
Which leaves Rowan Atkinson, who is tremendously funny. Period.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Bean, he would have paid . . .
Sue me, I'm spoiled
by years of PBS and HBO showings of Bean. This is just more of a good thing.
Oh, yeah, the pore thing. I got two pages to fill. Whaddya think I'm gonna do,
explain every single gag in the movie? See it yourself!
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