If Rocky Balboa and John McClane can hit the comeback trail after a lengthy absence then who would deny a similar opportunity to Rowan Atkinson's one man disaster area' Ten years have passed since Bean but the public's affection for the gurning, bug-eyed loon remains strong thanks to television reruns and the character's ubiquitous presence as in-flight entertainment.
Mr Bean's Holiday delivers the traditional mix of mishaps, misunderstandings and elaborate sight gags that fans appreciate. Entirely predictable but sunnily inoffensive in its execution, this has the kind of purely visual humour that will readily translate into an international favourite of children and family audiences without winning over any hard hearted critics.
Returns in Britain and key Bean strongholds, where it opens from this weekend, should be on a par with the distant original, which took around $200m-plus worldwide back in 1997.
A cartoon character in human form, Bean is a combination of Basil Fawlty, Jacques Tati and Mr Magoo. Devised by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson, he thrived in a sketch-based television setting.
Bean (1997) created a coherent feature-length scenario that took him to America. In Mr Bean' s Holiday he heads to France where he is separated from his luggage and passport, tussles with a plateful of crustaceans, dresses up as a Nazi, dons drag and accidentally winds up the toast of the Cannes Film Festival.
He also discovers that a linguistic ability that barely stretches to Oui, Non and Gracias can help you travel a surprising distance in a foreign land.
Atkinson's rubber-limbed, bug-eyed virtuosity is the star attraction of Mr Bean's Holiday although there is some game support from a classy cast that includes Jean Rochefort as a head waiter, Willem Dafoe as pretentious American film-maker Carson Clay and Emma de Caunes as actress Sabine.
Bean has never met an inanimate object that did not present him with difficulties and the film has its fair share of obvious gags involving various modes of transport, sandwich dispensers and a runaway chicken.
There are jokes here as old as cinema itself. Occasionally the silliness reaches inspired heights as a busking Bean mimes to ll Mio Bambino Caro or takes desperate measures to remain awake at the wheel of a car.
There is also a delightful climatic sequence that transports Bean to a Riviera beach and finds the entire cast joining in an all-singing finale to the sound of Charles Trenet's lilting rendition of La Mer.
The decision to have Bean shoot his own holiday videos seems something of a distraction at times but is an effective plot device once the film moves to Cannes and a Festival screening at the Palais.
There are even movie buff in-jokes for audiences that care to look; is Bean's clamber over the seat backs an homage to the excitable Roberto Benigni' Could Carson Clay and his painful film Playback Time be a nod in the direction of The Brown Bunny'
Cinematographer Baz Irvine brings a warm glow to the proceedings, composer Howard Goodall displays a light touch in the provision of jaunty, upbeat music and comedy veteran Steve Bendelack directs with a sure hand that delivers a perky, thoroughly professional product.
Motion Picture Alpha
Tiger Aspect Pictures
based on a character created by
Richard Curtis & Rowan Atkinson