Mr Magoo with malice

The puerile Mr Bean has made it from TV to the big screen, from London to Los Angeles. But the idiot's-eye outlook he offers remains the same

Rowan Atkinson makes infrequent appearances on the cinema screen, and it can be quite a shock to see him up there in all his grotesque, gurning, reptilian glory. He could be a Gerald Scarfe cartoon sprung to life -his skin is peppered with inkspot moles, his nose can transform his face into a weasel's snout at the slightest flaring of his shotgun- barrel nostrils, and his eyebrows are so autonomously expressive they should have their own Equity cards. If Atkinson had been plying his trade at the start of the century, it would have been from the cage next door to John Merrick's.

With a face like that, all you need is a decent script. And that's exactly what Bean needs. Mel Smith's film is an attempt to transfer the adventures of Mr Bean - who, for those of you lucky enough to have missed the puerile television series, is like Mr Magoo with added malice and mucus - to Los Angeles. This location has clearly been chosen to appeal to American audiences, and to exploit the culture-clash element in the comedy.

But the Bean character is already internationally popular, and experiences culture-clash in every moment of his daily life. There's no situation where he fits in, and no location that doesn't offer him infinite opportunities for slapstick and embarrassment, so Los Angeles is left looking superfluous, drained of life and colour despite the film-maker's attempt at using Randy Newman's "I Love LA" in a non-ironic capacity.

To get Mr Bean to California takes surprisingly little fuss (if the film has anything in its favour, it's brevity). The art gallery where he works - apparently the National Gallery, although that's not the building we see - dispatches him to introduce the unveiling of Whistler's Mother in Los Angeles. His bosses want him out of their hair, though why they're willing to risk their reputation by sending an imbecile to represent them is never explained. One bag-of-vomit gag later and Mr Bean hits America, to stay with David (Peter MacNicol) and his sitcom-style family. What they expect is a genius. What they get is a man who is never so alive as when he's catching M&Ms in his mouth.

Atkinson has commented that the film explores a different side to Mr Bean, which is exactly the sort of thing an actor plugging his latest film would say, though there's a touch of truth to it. Mr Bean is not exactly a likeable character, but he can be endearingly resourceful at times, and any substance he has in the film comes from his reaction to the damage he causes - in one scene, he uses great ingenuity to break into the gallery and repair the damage he has done to its prize painting. He's not an anarchist. He tidies up after himself.

And, like Mr Magoo, he comes out of the chaos unscathed. He's called upon to give a speech at the gallery, but when it turns out that the philanthropic sponsor (a nice brusque cameo by Burt Reynolds) is no art historian but a patriotic xenophobe worried that Whistler might stray into foreign hands, Mr Bean is home free.

He emerges as a hero because those around him are philistines. It's an idiot's-eye view of the world which should prove appealing only to viewers who consider Morons from Outer Space to be an unparalleled high point in cinema comedyn

On general release from tomorrow (PG)

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

booksReview: Lena Dunham, Not That Kind of Girl
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments