Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean

Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean
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Is Mr. Bean a child trapped inside of a man's body? An alien? Or an anarchist? While all of these have been suggested as reasons for his erratic behaviour, the one thing that's clear is that he is certainly nothing short of peculiar. This new collection of all 14 episodes of the British TV series, Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean showcases the brilliant physical comedy of Rowan Atkinson as he masterfully delivers a nearly wordless performance that rivals some of the greatest silent comedians of all time.
 
The set-up for a standard Mr. Bean sketch isn't that complicated. In fact, most of his best bits involve him trying to tackle mundane tasks or activities that inevitably go awry because of his esoteric approach. From taking an exam in which he's forced to try and cheat off his neighbour when he realizes he's studied for the wrong subject, to trying to stay awake in church, to diving off the highest diving board at the pool, Mr. Bean can't seem to do much right despite his near-constant concern with looking foolish.
 
He doesn't seem to have any friends, blows it with his neglected girlfriend in the Christmas episode that's become a staple in homes around the holidays and finds reliable companionship only in the form of his doted-on teddy bear. He's aloof and oblivious to social customs and sometimes, as with his ongoing rivalry with the driver of a three-wheeled car, even downright malevolent in how he treats those who might stop him from getting his way.
 
What's remarkable is how Atkinson, with a team of collaborators that includes writer Richard Curtis (Four Weddings & A Funeral), is able to wring an escalating series of laughs out of his awkwardness and uncanny talent at contorting his body and face. Unfortunately, the show's laugh track now seems a little dated and distracting, and there are many instances where the suspension of disbelief required for a gag to land reaches Herculean proportions, as when Mr. Bean's hand gets stuck in a man's back pocket and the man doesn't even notice when the two of them enter a bathroom stall together.
 
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about this release is that it restores scenes that were missing from a 2007 release that had the nerve to falsely advertise as "The Whole Bean" back then. A stodgy but informative short documentary on the evolution of Mr. Bean is the highlight of the supplemental features, even though it was made all the way back in 1997, when the first of two Mr. Bean films was being released. Aside from that, there are a few deleted scenes, unaired sketches and a collection of Mr. Bean's greatest hits that's framed by him going through some boxes in his attic and reminiscing on all his wonderful misadventures. (Shout! Factory)