'Mr. Bean's Holiday'
Not that there's anything especially wrong with Atkinson's alter ego, though the broad, beetle-browed mugging and the spastic, guttural noises make Bean an acquired taste for those older than, say, 8. (And even that may be pushing matters.) He is capable of moments of goofy grace, though such interludes come in spurts. The buildup of his gags proves more rewarding than the payoffs, with some exceptions - like the scene in "Mr. Bean's Holiday" where he makes a hasty retreat from a restaurant where a woman sitting at a nearby table has a nasty surprise waiting for her in her purse.
Such moments in this movie, which comes 10 years after its hugely successful predecessor, "Bean," are more the exception than the rule.
The simple notion of having Mr. Bean take advantage of his prize-winning raffle ticket by going off to France for a beach vacation presents many hooks upon which to hang many gags. The running subplots involve a young boy (newcomer Max Baldry, who's a prodigy at basic deadpan) whom Bean unwittingly separates from his father on the train to Cannes. And there's a requisite pretty girl (Emma de Caunes), who's also on her way to Cannes to see her debut in a film directed by a preening egomaniac (Willem Dafoe).
For every set piece that hits (a couple, maybe), there are stretches when the movie seems to drag itself from one silly twitch to another. Veteran moviegoers may find themselves yearning for the long-ago-and-far-away time when characters like Atkinson's Bean were confined to short subjects. Even at a relatively svelte 87 minutes, "Mr. Bean's Vacation," for all its sunny gentility and eagerness to please, leaves you wondering if even a little Bean goes too long a way.
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