Bean (known as Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie and Bean: The Movie in promotional materials and home releases) is a 1997 British-American comedy film based on the popular ITV comedy television series Mr. Bean, which was written by and starring Rowan Atkinson as the title character. The main plot follows Bean entrusted to unveil the priceless painting Whistler’s Mother. Whistler’s Mother had been bought by an American Art Gallery from a French gallery to return ‘the greatest’ American painting to the US. In the process, a number of unfortunate mishaps see Bean inadvertently break up a marriage, annoy an American policeman and accidentally destroy the painting, although a shrewd plan results in these mistakes being rectified.
The film was written by Atkinson and Richard Curtis and was directed by Mel Smith, all of whom originally worked together on Not the Nine O’Clock News. Its working title was initially Dr. Bean, based on a misunderstanding which forms part of the plot of the film.It was given a PG-13 by the MPAA for “moments of risque humour”, and an uncut PG by the BBFC, as well as the IFCO.
Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) is a well-meaning but hopelessly clumsy and destructive guard at the Royal National Gallery in London. Attempts by the gallery’s board of directors to fire Bean are thwarted by the chairman (Sir John Mills) who, for unspecified reasons, is very fond of him. Desperate to rid themselves of the turmoil Bean unintentionally causes, the board members send him to the United States to represent them at the unveiling of the portrait Whistler’s Mother, which has been purchased for $50 million by the fictional Grierson Art Gallery in Los Angeles. Bean’s visit has been arranged by the gallery’s curator, David Langley (Peter MacNicol), who is very impressed by the National Gallery’s fabricated praise of “Dr. Bean”, and decides to board Bean in his house, much to the chagrin of his wife Allison (Pamela Reed), son Kevin (Andrew Lawrence), and daughter Jennifer (Tricia Vessey), who are unhappy with the thought of Bean suddenly living with them for two months.
Bean arrives in Los Angeles and immediately gets into trouble with the airport police by pretending to conceal a gun. Bean’s awkward behavior quickly irritates Allison too much that she leaves him and David to go to her mother’s house with Kevin and Jennifer. Then David goes to a meeting with Bean at the gallery. While Bean uses the bathroom, he accidentally gets water on his pants after washing his hands. He climbs on a trash can and uses a hand dryer to dry the wet spot but gets his pants wet again. He gets a pamphlet to cover the wet spot, but finds a fan during the meeting and drys his pants off. David’s boss, George Grierson (Harris Yulin), also appears slightly put off by Bean’s attitude, and subtly warns David that he will be held accountable for Bean’s actions, given that it was his decision to have Bean unveil the painting. Although David initially believing Bean to be a little eccentric, he begins to doubt his decision when Bean ends up causing more havoc at an amusement park by turning up the speed on a virtual roller coaster and unintentionally hurting some people. Bean is arrested by the police for the second time, but Lieutenant Brutus (Richard Gant), who previously met Bean at the airport, releases him and warns David that he will send Bean to prison if he steps out of line again. After Bean and David accidentally manage to mess up a forgotten dinner with Grierson and his wife that evening, David finally asks Bean if he is really a doctor, which Bean replies to David that he is not. Whistler’s Mother arrives at the gallery a few days later and David is taken with the rest of the staff for a security meeting. Meanwhile, Bean is left alone with the painting and accidentally sneezes on it while studying it. His attempt to rectify it only cause more damage until the painting is left with a white mark where Whistler’s Mother’s face should be. David sees the mess and flies into a panic and fearing that he will lose his job and possibly face criminal proceedings for the damage. Overcome by grief, Bean and David drown their sorrows with alcohol. Allison, Kevin, and Jennifer return home the next day, but Allison grows angrier with David for getting drunk with Bean and begins to consider leaving David for good.
During conversation with Kevin, who has grown to like him, Bean hatches a plan to restore the damage. Taking several items from David’s house in the middle of the night, Bean sneaks into the gallery and distracts a security guard watching the security cameras by shouting “Help!” When the guard investigates, Bean goes into the security room, dumps laxative in the guard’s coffee, and switches the key to the men’s bathroom. When the guard returns, he drinks the coffee, and grabs the key that Bean switched when he realizes he has to use the bathroom. In the display room, Bean removes the damaged painting and places a poster of the painting on the frame, applying mixed albumen and clear nail varnish over it to make it appear like a genuine painting. Meanwhile, the guard grabs all the possible keys to get in the bathroom. When Bean leaves, the guard manages to get in the bathroom by breaking down the door with a fire extinguisher. On the day of the unveiling, General Newton (Burt Reynolds) arrives with the press to personally unveil the painting, and David happily forgives Bean. However, Bean is called to give a speech about the painting. Although David expects Bean to make a fool of himself on national television, Bean ultimately gives an intelligent and deep speech about the painting and its nature, winning the praise of Newton and the press. The celebration is cut short when Lieutenant Brutus informs David that Jennifer had a motorcycle accident and is in intensive care. On the way to the hospital, Brutus stops to deal with a mugger and is shot. At the hospital, David and Allison reconcile over Jennifer’s health, while Bean is mistaken for a real doctor (as he picks up a stethoscope dropped by a doctor) and taken to operating theatres. Despite some initial misgivings, Bean manages to save Brutus and awaken Jennifer in her bed (an accident with a defibrillator sends him flying and he lands on top of her). As gratitude, the Langleys allow Bean to spend another week with them before returning to London. The film ends when Bean bids farewell to the Langleys and returns to London, where it is revealed that he kept the damaged painting as a souvenir.