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'Mr. Bean's Holiday'

The actor Rowan Atkinson has said this will be the final appearance for his bumbling, befuddled Mr. Bean, which is as good a reason as any to catch what amounts to an only intermittently amusing jaunt through French tourist spots.

In the opening reel, Mr. Bean wins an all-expenses-paid vacation; then, of course, he proceeds to make a mess of things at every stop along the way. He eats oysters (pretty hilariously) in Paris, joins forces with a little boy (after inadvertently making the boy's father miss the train), then gets himself and the boy thoroughly mired in the countryside before arriving at a decently funny final sequence at the Cannes Film Festival.

The physical gags generally require so much setup that the film often seems to be marking time between chuckles, but the payoff certainly is fun. And a couple of Buster Keaton-ish bits — especially an improvised, impromptu, pleasantly improbable staircase that materializes to take Mr. Bean to the beach — are pretty inspired.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.