Whether or not you find this DVD hilarious or as thrilling as watching paint dry rather depends on how much a fan you are of Rowan Atkinson, the British answer to Jerry Lewis. If you care about as much for either one as you would for having root-canal dentistry performed with a jack-hammer, then you can skip this DVD entirely, and the rest of the review too. Although Mr. Bean, the near-to-silent, endlessly inventive, rubber-faced (and apparently rubber-limbed) every-schlub is a little quieter than Jerry Lewis, he is just as comically accident-prone.

After all, who else on earth could find himself with his foot caught on a tall clothing rack, above his head… on a French TV production set… while costumed as a WWII German soldier… because he was practicing a really, really enthusiastic goose-step… after being shanghaied as an extra. The film involved is a commercial for yoghurt, by the way. What the logic is in that, I have no idea, although Mr. Bean does manage to blow up the director.

The plot, such as it exists is gossamer thin, and in places reminiscent of the classic Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, being almost entirely composed of sight gags and gentle pratfalls. Mr. Bean wins a charity raffle first prize; a camcorder and an all expense paid trip to the French Riviera. He gets as far as Paris before the inevitable cascade of misfortune begins. In short order and in no particular order he manages to get his tie caught in a vending machine, fill an expensive handbag with raw oysters and causes a visiting Russian filmmaker to miss the train to Cannes. He also looses his bus ticket to a chicken, after miming a performance of “O Mio Bambino Caro” in a French open-air market in concert with the young son of the aforementioned Russian filmmaker, and has his bicycle run over by a tank He does eventually manage to reach Cannes and the seaside that he has been dreaming of while his home movies of the trip win a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival… don’t ask me to explain how that happened, but be assured there is some gentle fun to be had in skewering self-indulgent movie directors. Don’t miss Willem Dafoe’s brief turn as an auteur filmmaker/movie star with a hilariously awful but artistic movie. Whatever else can be said about Willem Dafoe, he does have enough confidence to parody himself. And the locations, especially those shot in and around the South of France are beautiful, as gorgeous as an expensive coffee-table book.

Overall, Mr. Bean’s Holiday is a gentle, old-fashioned comedy – the kind of family friendly comedy that is hardly ever made any more; it can hardly be more unlike something like “Borat” and still be on the same planet. Some bits are funnier than others, but there is nothing mean, foul-mouthed or vulgar about “Mr. Bean”. It will even bear watching over and over again. Extras include more than twenty minutes of scenes that were omitted from the finished film, and three aptly titled features: “French Beans”, which followed some of the more elaborate set-pieces filmed in the Luberon locations, “Beans in Cannes”, explained how the crew managed to film on location during the international film festival, and “The Human Bean” featured brief interviews and reminiscences with other cast members. Mr. Bean’s Holiday is available after Tuesday, November 27th at Amazon.com and other retail outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book, “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com

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