'Mr. Bean' brilliant, '3:10 to Yuma' dialect doubtful

 

Last updated 9/7/2007 at Noon



In the speechless yet brilliant performance of Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson), the creativity and innocence of the props, plot and action in “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” are whimsical and bohemian. Mr. Bean entertains a 10-year-old boy for the entire movie, once tearing a piece of paper into fourths, licking each piece and putting it on his eyes, nose and mouth to act like robot. Also, he Sony video-cams the entire movie – we’re watching Mr. Bean film Mr. Bean – but it works and is a cagey use of product placement.

The movie starts with a pale, rain-weary Mr. Bean at a church raffle licking his lips in anticipation of winning a trip to the South of France. He has the winning ticket but doesn’t realize it ’til the last second. He continues to lick his lips and create frenetic suspense for the rest of the movie by using very simple everyday action reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin and just as original.


Mr. Bean has perfected the art of making fun of oneself on film. The disgusting, self-absorbed side of him only comes out if he talks; otherwise, his infantile ego leads him through scandal and brushes with the law unharmed. He gets lost at the Gare du Nord train station in Paris, pulls out his compass and heads due south, walking over anything in his way, including tables with diners eating French snob cuisine.

Dialect was dubious in “3:10 to Yuma” because of Russell Crowe’s inability to deliver a believable cowboy outlaw boss of the New Mexico frontier days. No one knows what the dialect would really sound like, only that one cannot help but notice Ben Wade (Crowe) is actually an Australian born superstar who is speaking in a phony fake dialect and this just ain’t it. His dialect destroys the authentic feeling that makes a good western. Can’t say much for that hat, either. It’s very rare that a dialect gets botched because it’s a controllable element in a movie.


Crowe’s dialect coach must have been frustrated about not being able to fix his voice. Making do was a mistake. Maybe the crew was afraid if they told him his dialect sounded fake he would throw a phone at them. Stranger things have happened.

Friends and frontier justice don’t mix in this movie because everyone has a bone to pick with each other, so allegiances run rather thin. Dan Evans (Christian Bale) has a wife, kids and almost a house, but he’s such a goody, goody loser type because he won’t fight evil with evil – something that can get you killed real fast on the frontier.


Dan treats Ben with unearned respect and brings about his own predictable demise determined to get him to the 3:10 to Yuma prison train. The question is: wouldn’t it just be better to hang ’em high and collect your fee?

Both movies are entertaining, but perhaps Crowe should have followed Mr. Bean’s lead and just not talked, or – better yet – been dubbed with an actor’s voice more capable for the part. You can’t win ’em all, Russell. Don’t be sore. Call me! We’ll do lunch.

 

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