Screen Squinty’s “Mr. Bean The Ultimate Disaster Movie” Review.

Film: Mr. Bean The Ultimate Disaster Movie.
Directed by: Mel Smith.
Running time: 90 min.
Released: 1997.

Recently, over on the Canadian Netflix, I found the pleasure of finding the recent addition of an old nostalgic favorite of mine from back in the day of ye olde 1990’s, that classic comedian Rowan Atkinson’s first Mr. Bean movie, The Ultimate Disaster that was very much a success for veteran fans of our favorite British star.

The highlights of course, are the comedy, in particular Mr. Bean and his interactions with various characters during his trip to the states when he is mistaken (on purpose) as an fine art scholar.

You see the classic gags from the Mr. Bean series worked out within the film, but at the same time they do combine it with newer gags, many of which work, such as the brilliant scene where Bean breaks into the art gallery in the climax of the film to right a mistake, which was one long gag intermingled with the resolution of narrative with some epic music that gave it a rather surreal amusing feel, particularly when the aggrieved security guard manages to valiantly make it to the toilet…I’m sure more than a few buttocks clenched in sympathetic relief at that scene.

Meanwhile, the strongest feature of the film was  the dynamic between Bean and David Langley (Peter MacNicol), which provided some natural comedic buddy moments, David working well with a character like Bean who had never before been depicted with a single character nearly exclusively ] with such a close prolonged interaction. MacNicol and Atkinson had great chemistry on the screen and worked well with each other.

The other amusing moments were those surrounding Bean who somewhat suffered for the interactions, as brief as they were, and Detective Brutus (Richard Grant) was the best of the lot. Though he was a straight-faced minor character, he did what many other characters usually do in an original Mr. Bean episode would do, he would directly/indirectly suffer as comedic foil to Beans mishaps, which made the scene in the hospital, in which Bean is his unwitting surgeon, particularly good as it was closer to the type of humour likely to be found in the original show when it comes to those who populated Bean’s immediate environment.

The only drawback of course was the MacNicol family…ugh.

They felt somewhat superfluous to the overall film, and hindered more then helped the story, coming across for the most part unintentionally cruel to the main characters without any real reason behind their behavior, particularly the wife. The film would have been just as strong if it were just Langley without the family.

This was the 1990’s though, and there was a thing about that back in the day for flicks geared towards the all ages bracket, so it is likely a product of the times, just handled very clunky.

Despite some of the inherent 90’s drawbacks of the film, it has always been an enjoyable film to watch when one wants to enjoy some good laughs, but of course the best of Bean, is always to go right back to the source, and that is the original series if singularly Bean humour is your thing. The original material provides the complete, uniquely Bean experience that could not be carried over in this film. There is this unique element of slice of life quietude co-existing with the physical humour that worked so amazingly well with the original, and so uniquely Bean. It would have been nice to see this film have a bit more focus on that style of humour within the story without the Americanization it went through, even if this film is enjoyable, and worth a watch for an artifact of the 90’s and some epic scenes in and of itself.

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Screen Squinty’s “Zootopia” Review.

Film: Zootopia.
Directed by: Byron Howard and Rich Moore.
Running time: 108 min.
Released: 2016.

Zootopia is a Disney computer animation feature that centers on the story of Judy Hopps in a classic underbunny story of a small town nobody with big dreams of making it in the big city as a cop, yet finds that she still has to deal with being a prey animal in a predator dominated field.

While the story at its core is something that has been done many times before, a discrimination story, though a Furry version, Zootopia does at least present it in an interesting, engaging, and fresh manner by combining it with the premise of an entire world of evolved anthropomorphic mammals with an actual somewhat explained back history, and combines it with a really great bit of intrigue, well balanced humor, and great characters.

The animation, particularly on Zootopia and all its various environments are cleverly designed and gorgeously rendered giving a very real, very present feel to the setting, particularly combined with the really great character designs have its own unique charm.

The plot flows really well, playing with events and expectations a little, and not afraid to really build up the reveals, while taking time out to focus on the little moments, which gives it a more relaitable engagement and feel for the spectators instead of smashing from one scene to the next with nary a breath in-between, which has been a common problem with many films nowadays and outside of animated shorts and Steven Universe, has a presentation so smartly and wisely utilized its flow of time so perfectly.

The narrative meanwhile is really good! it is very much a serious series of events in which an overarching conspiracy/mystery is going on, and during the times when it is in focus, they treat it in a serious manner with surprising little humor, which they save for interactions between the various characters and background gags.

The film also utilizes its moral lesson smartly (though rather bluntly), but doesn’t tread that fine line in to rehash preaching that often turns off the viewer from a rather important lesson. No one here has the moral high ground, everyone has both obvious and subtle faults and points of view that are both conscious and subtle, and is used as a device for character development, adding a layer to the dynamic between Judy and Nick.

Speaking of Judy, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White from Once Upon a Time), and Nick voiced by Jason Bateman (Michael Bluth in Arrested Development)- and did a stellar job with the voice acting- brought character dynamic that was just brilliant! Their growing relationship provided not only some of the best dialogue,and the way they worked off each other in action scenes, humorous scenes, and the final confrontation felt very natural and between them carried the overall tone of the movie all the way through (also unrelievedly this was a non-romantic pair for once, kudos for going against an overused trope, particularly for something from Disney).

Overall this was a feature that super-seceded expectations by presenting an all-around great film by taking a common sometimes overused concept and made it interesting with some creative and well thought out animation, narrative flow, and some great characters.

A definite recommend for viewers of all ages.

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