Curator Amalia Kozloff and Exhibits Projects Coordinator Chris Moore are part of MoPOP's curatorial team.
MoPOP Movie Review: 'Bean'
Have you ever watched a TV show or film that featured a character with the same job as you? Have you ever thought, 'But, that's not how it is at all!' Us, too! So, as part of a limited content series titled MoPOP Movie Reviews, we'll take a look back at some of our favorite films and analyze how museums, art work, and art workers are portrayed.
To date, we've reviewed Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Velvet Buzzsaw (2019), and we continue today with Bean (1997). Read on!
Times are weird and stressful, but Rowan Atkinson is here to save the day (or royally screw it up) in the 1997 *air quotes* classic, Bean.
We don’t know about you, but we totally forgot about this movie and that it had anything to do with museums. Exhibits Projects Coordinator Chris Moore started his career at MoPOP as a security guard, so he’s got some insight into the many security guard blunders—and there a lot of them here.
The same rules used in previous MoPOP Movie Review pieces apply: we'll start each review with 20 points and, based on our interpretation of key moments throughout each film, movies will gain or lose points depending on how realistic we deem them to be in the category of museum and/or art work. It's almost too goofy to really analyze, but we’ll do our very best. Let's get started!
Sleeping On The Job
Within the first 5 minutes of the movie, we get to see Bean being Bean and falling asleep while on duty as a security guard. We can tell you right now that it’s rare to see museum security guards sitting, much less falling asleep. While they often have hiding spaces, since they have access to the entire building for security purposes, those are more utilized for decompressing after stressful moments instead of sleeping. Chris’ inner security guard is already cringing from this movie and it’s just started.
Museum/Art Work Realism Review: -5 points
Running Total: 15/20 points
The (Very) Tired Security Guard Trope
Getting into the museum, the security system is really on point with protocols on entry but goes downhill quickly. We saw food next to artifacts (Nooooooo!), free access to the back of house (just, nope), and Bean was able to access a 50-million-dollar painting with zero repercussions from security. As front of house staff, security guards are some of the most knowledgeable about what is in the museum and why it’s there. We’ve never understood the very tired trope of bumbling security guards.
Museum/Art Work Realism Review: -8 points
Running Total: 7/20 points
Please, Give Us Some Space!
Can we talk about accessibility for a moment? Because it’s totally lacking in this movie. Granted, MoPOP has an unusual layout, but you’ll notice the hallways for getting people to and from places are usually pretty darn big and open. In Bean, you can hardly even fit two people side by side. It’s totally not ADA compliant or safe for the art and it bugs us. It bugs us soooooo much.
Museum/Art Work Realism Review: -5 points
Running Total: 2/20 points
Special Treatment (Or Lack Thereof)
So, while we do travel to other museums for our jobs (couriers, exhibit installers, curators, etc.), we don’t typically get extra special treatment from the hosting galleries other than to maybe get a tour of that facility, and, perhaps, a lunch... (all right, that’s not entirely true. Gina at The Henry Ford Museum once hosted a coworker and I for Easter dinner. I MISS YOU, GINA! Signed, Chris.) Ninety-nine out of 100 times, that will not happen.
Museum/Art Work Realism Review: -6 points
Running Total: -4/20 points
Preparators And Conservators, Look Away!
So, the whole build-up for this reveal drove us nuts. First, he is left alone with a $50 million dollar painting! ALONE! NO ONE ELSE IS AROUND! NO CAMERAS! ARGH!!! Then, he goes into a back room with spray paint, cleaning supplies, and paint thinner (btw, all those combined are a total fire hazard), puts the painting in a vice, and vigorously scrubs the face. The preparators and conservators watching are probably having heart palpitations. Have you ever seen painting conservators at work? It’s so soothing. Here’s one of our favorites. We’re giving points because, yes, paint thinner destroys paintings (duh). Otherwise, WHO DOES THIS? Oops, never mind.
Museum/Art Work Realism Review: +2 points
Running Total: -2/20 points
Using eggs to make posters look like a real painting is actually a thing. There’s even a whole medium of painting that uses eggs as a base. But technology has changed, and so have art mediums and egg tempera is no longer very popular because it is not the most durable. Truthfully, he would have had an easier time just using something like Elmer’s Glue to get the effect he wanted—not that we are suggesting this is even remotely an appropriate reaction to destroying a painting. Also, if he’s so daft, how does he know how to do this? So many questions.
Museum/Art Work Realism Review: +3 points
Final Total: 1/20 points
This entire movie was possibly intended to be a form of torture for museum employees. The most realistic bit was how the (not-Bean) security guards were well-dressed, friendly, and knowledgeable, and the museum had a decent security system. After that, it was all ridiculous. Not that we expected any less.
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