Rowan Atkinson has returned to his slapstick roots in Man Vs. Bee, a nine-episode comedy series on Netflix that premiered on June 24, yet I finally just watched. In Man Vs. Bee, Atkinson plays a house sitter for a couple (Jing Lusi and Julian Rhind-Tutt) as they go on vacation. Yet what seems like a quiet week of house-sitting immediately turns into a battle against an unwanted guest: That being a bee. As the battle of man vs. bee ensues over the course of nine episodes, we are treated to a mixture of funny slapstick and uncomfortable gags that you would expect from the guy who gave us Mr. Bean.
Atkinson is a talent when it comes to comedy. Along with Mr. Bean, he also gave us Blackadder, which was also really funny. Man Vs. Bee showcases Atkinsons knack for slapstick, despite having to go up against a CG bee. As Trevor Bingley, he sells each bit of physical comedy and rolls with all the punches, securing the laughs while bringing the cringe. There is something discomforting about seeing somebody so bumbling enough that any lengths to get one tiny bug out of a house that is not theirs leads to a path of ruin and destruction; but where would the fun be if nothing went wrong? Adding to the chaos is a side dish where Trevor has to also deal with getting calls from his ex-wife, Jess (Claudie Blakley) and daughter, Maddy (India Fowler), as he has to plan out a vacation to spend time with the latter.
With everything going on in this span, I was wondering why Man Vs. Bee was even a show in the first place. The whole thing seems to work better as a comedic stage play or a full feature; the episodes are short enough to make an easy watch, lasting about 19 minutes on the first, reducing to 10-11 minutes for the following eight. I would recommend watching this as a whole. Whatever the case may be, it is fun to see Atkinson do what he does best, and that is what made me check it out. Though, I was constantly reminded of Mousehunt with Nathan Lane and Lee Evans, which utilized the same formula and concept. While slapstick may not be as common as it used to. It is nice to be reminded of the pleasures of pain, especially with a comedic genius in tow.