Friday, June 20, 2008

Mr. Bean, you're no Jacques Tati

I couldn't watch Mr. Bean's Holiday. I like Rowan Atkinson's other characters, but the Bean character is too malevolent for me. After the first 15 minutes I realized I would never "get" Mr. Bean, and gave up. Which is unfortunate, because I like some of the mannerisms- his croaky voice and bizarre expressions. I remember liking some episodes of the TV show that I caught, but he seems to go out of his way to cause trouble instead of causing it inadvertently, which drains all the humor our of it for me. It felt like one of those slapstick Three Stooges ripoffs that were made in World War 2, with caricatures of the enemy. Too forced and too obvious. I loved Black Adder, but Mr. Bean seems to exist to make Nigel Six-Pack feel superior to foreigners.

I watched this because some reviewers compared him to Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot, who was a masterpiece. He's very subtle, but also a confused, socially inept, often clumsy fellow with Rube Goldberg solutions for certain situations. The films are also very clever in their compostion, and many of the jokes are visual. In Playtime, it's suggested that most of the jokes an't even be seen unless it's on a 70mm projection. Mr. Bean is directed by TV people, so there's none of that. And Hulot is never cruel, he's just off-kilter compared to everyone around him. That makes him endearing, unlike Bean, who puts raw oysters in your purse rather than send them back.

Hulot puzzled by office life.

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