Rowan Atkinson is the king of slapstick comedy. He is known across the world and his skits have racked up hundreds of millions of views on YouTube. But surprisingly enough, his movies don’t have quite as much acclaim as his old TV shows, stand-up routines, and one-offs.
Interestingly, all of Atkinson’s movies that feature his most well-known characters, including Johnny English and Mr. Bean, aren’t rated anywhere near as high as the movies where he plays more of a supporting character. Nonetheless, between voicing a character in an all-time classic animated movie and doing what he does best in some beloved British films, Rowan Atkinson is a national treasure.
10 The Johnny English Series – 6.3
Given that Atkinson had a major role in the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again, he perfectly followed that up with a Bond satire of his own. Considering that parody movies, in general, don’t have the best reputation, the Johnny English movies are generally well-received and quite consistent too.
All three Johnny English movies sit at a 6.3, and as far as satirizing James Bond’s character goes, English is one of the funniest. The first Johnny English movie even has a Bond-esque villain with a plan to turn the whole of England into the world’s largest prison. It was the perfect type of character outside of Mr. Bean to showcase Atkinson’s slapstick comedy.
9 Mr. Bean’s Holiday (2007) – 6.4
Though there was clearly no rush after the success of Bean, an almost-as-good sequel eventually came 10 years later. Just as the 1997 movie saw the iconic character go overseas and visit the U.S., Mr. Bean’s Holiday follows the character as he travels to France.
It’s much more of a family affair this time around, as there were more than a handful of adult jokes in the original movie, but that might be why Holiday is rated a little lower. But with the movie being set around the Cannes film festival, the MVP of the movie is Willem Dafoe, who plays a pretentious film director attempting to win the Palme d’Or.
8 Rat Race (2001) – 6.4
Rat Race is the biggest Hollywood production Atkinson has been a part of, as most of his movies have been largely funded by U.K. studios. And that’s why it’s hardly a surprise that Rat Race had so much marketing behind it and has the largest budget for an Atkinson-led movie.
The movie follows a group of people who race across the U.S. in search of a jackpot amount of hidden money. However, the movie wasn’t as successful as it should have been, and that’s because it was mostly seen as a pale imitation of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Atkinson is the saving grace of the film, and the strange ways he pulls his face and the weird sounds he makes are again the very things that draw the audiences in the most.
7 Bean (1997) – 6.5
By 1997, the TV show Mr. Bean had become a phenomenon in the U.K. To this day, Mr. Bean is Atkinson’s most iconic role and the character is such an important part of U.K. pop culture that he had a major role in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
But in 1997, the character was introduced to overseas audiences to a greater extent by setting Bean in California. As the TV show was made up of simple 10-minute skits, the movie had an almost impossible task of tieing all of these slapstick comedy routines together in a narrative that made sense. But for the most part, it pulled it off terrifically.
6 Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993) – 6.6
A parody of both Apocalypse Now and Rambo, there was no better movie to bring Rowan Atkinson into the Hollywood spotlight than Hot Shots! Part Deux.
It’s somewhat jarring seeing Atkinson and Charlie Sheen act alongside each other, as they have such different styles. Needless to say, Atkinson carries the bulk of the movie with his stoic delivery of certain lines as a prisoner in Iraq while also being a bumbling idiot. It’s this stark contrast that nobody does better than the comedy actor and what he would go on to perfect with Johnny English.
5 Keeping Mum (2005) – 6.8
As far as Atkinson’s characters go, Reverend Walter Goodfellow is by far the most normal, but that isn’t saying much. There’s enough of Atkinson’s gold-standard slapstick, but not so much of it, and that might be why Keeping Mum is rated higher than many of the films based on his over-the-top characters.
The movie follows the reverend who is so fixated on creating the perfect sermon that he can’t see his family falling apart right in front of him. This leads to the housekeeper taking drastic measures to put things right. It’s an overlooked British comedy that deserves more attention.
4 The Witches (1990) – 6.9
In The Witches, Atkinson plays the hotel manager Mr. Stringer, and it’s the first time the actor becomes somewhat of a hero, as he runs around slicing up witches with a meat cleaver. It’s an early sign of Mr. Bean coming to life in the U.S., as Stringer is dressed like the iconic character and has the same body movements.
Thankfully, The Witches has managed to find a cult following since its release, as it was a box office bomb when it first came out in 1990. Unfortunately, the remake is considered to be the worst HBO Max exclusive movie, and it might have been a lot better had Atkinson returned.
3 Four Weddings And A Funeral (1994) – 7.1
Keeping Mum isn’t the only movie where Rowan Atkinson plays a priest, as he appears in Four Weddings and a Funeral in the robe and collar too. In fact, Keeping Mum could be seen as a quasi-sequel to the 1994 movie, as Reverend Goodfellow is well-seasoned, whereas Father Gerald is a nervous trainee.
The actor is a beloved part of the film, even though he’s only in one five-minute scene. Many fans of the movie feel that it’s one ’90s movie that should get its own Netflix series, but there’s no doubt that without Atkinson, it’d be missing an elemental part.
2 Love Actually (2003) – 7.6
Love Actually is one of the most unapologetically British movies ever, as it stars Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and many others, and the Prime Minister is even one of the main characters. And in a movie this British, it’d be blasphemy not to have Rowan Atkinson feature.
With an ensemble cast and full of original characters, Rufus, who only appears in a 2.5 minutes scene, is unquestionably one of the best supporting characters in Love Actually. The actor is used sparingly, which seems to be the winning formula with Atkinson on film. In the film, Rufus is a jewelry salesman with a hilarious gift of meticulous gift-wrapping.
1 The Lion King (1994) – 8.5
The Lion King is one of the highest-rated animated movies of all time, and while this is partly down to the beautiful animation and the inspiring narrative, the voice acting can’t be overlooked. Unsurprisingly, Atkinson plays Zazu, the comic relief of the film.
Though the movie doesn’t feature his trademark movements, the hornbill and Mufasa’s little stooge works in a way that only Atkinson can. It’s again another example of Atkinson stealing the show in a classic movie, and fans would have no doubt loved to have seen him in the remake.
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