Man vs Bee Review: Rowan Atkinson puts a good show in this predictable series
As a slapstick comedy, Man vs Bee offers little to nothing on the table for viewers craving some good laughs
Man vs Bee opens with Trevor Bingley (Rowan Atkinson) standing in front of a judge in a courtroom where he is found guilty of 14 counts, including dangerous driving, destruction of priceless artefacts and arson.
As an actor, Atkinson has held the position of being one of the funniest actors in British comedy for several years. His facial expressions, without any dialogues, were enough to make us roll on the floor and laugh out loud. Growing up with Atkinson’s unmatchable comedy skills and timings, it was hard to imagine a childhood without the iconic theme song of Mr Bean, dancing away while messing up the smallest of tasks. While it is hard to de-shed Mr Bean’s character from the artist, Man vs Bee, also co-created by Rowan Atkinson, attempts to cash in on the nostalgic factor in 2022.
Director: David Kerr
Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Jing Lusi, Claudie Blakley, Tom Basden, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Greg McHugh and India Fowler
Streaming on: Netflix
Spanning 10-12 minutes each, barring the pilot episode, the nine-episode series, streaming on Netflix, looks at Trevor Bingley’s major goof-ups while he is house-sitting a wealthy couple’s house — Nina (Jing Lusi) and Christian (Julian Rhind-Tutt) — when they are on a week-long holiday. He is battling a bee in a sprawling luxurious mansion that is filled with priceless artworks. As expected, all hell breaks loose as Trevor uses various dubious methods to get rid of the buzzing pest.
At its outset, the series leaves you wondering why it is placed at such short durations instead of a two-hour-long movie? Wouldn’t it have made sense as a movie rather than a series when you can finish in one go? There are no answers. It is excellent for an audience who has less attention span, but since it is one story, the continuity feels disrupted as it is broken down into nine chapters.
Going by the story, it is evident that this isn’t Trevor’s first time messing up at a workplace. He has previously been fired from Asda because of an ‘evil’ trolley and a shredder that ‘attacked’ him at a real estate office. He is a doting father to a loving daughter Maddy (India Fowler), who yearns to go with him on a camping trip. Trevor also makes a highly-relatable character as he is divorced, single, broke, and not in a permanent job. He is the everyday middle-class parent trying to make amends and fix what is leftover with gorilla glue.
When a bee creates havoc in his life, he is pushed to use whatever he gets in his hands – a vacuum cleaner, bug repellants, hand shower to even a bomb. It is hard to not draw parallels with Eega (2012), starring Nani and Kiccha Sudeep, where vengeance prominently prevails as the central theme.
I particularly liked how Trevor pauses between places like before cooking the bee in a microwave, the moment he understands that it also has a life and lets it out. Your heart sinks when he regrets his choices – such as breaking an E-type Jaguar – and takes a moment to think, ‘What have I done?’. The Mr Bean in Trevor is evolved, has taken up adulting and is moving away from his shell of what people associate him with. But he is just flawed, like us.
As Trevor tries to fix expensive artworks using tape, cloth and sketches, it instantly takes you back to the iconic scene from Mr Bean (1997) where he destroys Mona Lisa’s painting by drawing a silly face. Don’t miss the scene where the bee enters his pants when an interrogating officer knocks on his door.
However, the charm that Rowan Atkinson brings to a film is, unfortunately, missing in Man vs Bee. He tries to put on his best show but looks tired. As the patched-up artworks start peeling off, your patience too slowly starts eroding away. His familiar sigh, which also involves him strumming his lips, falls flat and doesn’t bring the usual smile.
As a slapstick comedy, Man vs Bee offers little to nothing on the table for viewers craving some good laughs. The scenes are conveniently predictable, and after watching years of Atkinson’s content, it is known that things ought to go wrong when there are detailed instructions given to Trevor.
Man vs Bee is Mr Bean in a new packaging and Johnny English on a rather uninteresting holiday. The sweets are aimed at creating a fun experience but taste savoury.