Plot: Through the comedy of Jerry Seinfeld comes an animated story of a bee name Barry B. Benson (Seinfeld) who wants more out of working in the bee factory. He sets off on an adventure and breaks the cardinal rule, he talks to a florist (Renee Zellweger). This leads to a crash course in interacting with humans that could have disastrous consequences.
Who’s it for: “Bee Movie” falls in line with the standard family animated movie. There are some jokes for adults, and the kids should be entertained.
Expectations: I have my blinders on when it comes to Seinfeld. I thought I couldn’t get enough of the guy. Then he kept showing up during my Thursday night TV on NBC, with “Bee” promotions. My wife immediately noticed they weren’t funny, but it took me awhile (because of the blinders). The advertising of this film has been overkill, and I was hoping it wouldn’t affect my opinion of the film.
Jerry Seinfeld as Barry: Sure, it takes awhile to believe Seinfeld’s voice fits a recent college graduate (bee) who still lives with his parents, but after that I’m willing to go on Barry’s adventure. Seinfeld’s best bee joke might have been, “I lost a cousin to Italian Vogue.”
Matthew Broderick as Adam: I guess Barry needed a straight-laced best friend so we could understand all the rules Barry is breaking within the bee community. It just would have been nice for Broderick to have something funny to say.
Renee Zellweger as Vanessa: When we first meet Vanessa, she says “All life has value,” and she puts Barry on the same level as her boyfriend Ken (Patrick Warburton). Ouch, that has to hurt the male ego. Then again, she just might be crazy.
Talking: One of Barry’s first words was “honey.” Get it? Cause he’s a bee. The good comedy comes from Seinfeld pointing out observations in our society; the bad comedy comes when he makes bee jokes about their favorite colors being black and yellow.
Sights and sounds: The animation looks its best when Barry and the other bees are flying around, and the film ends with a cover of The Beatles “Here Comes the Sun.” None of this really added to my love for the film.
Best Scene: The dream sequence is almost always dreaded territory, but not here. Barry dreams of frolicking with Vanessa, which seems to go perfectly fine until a rude awakening.
Ending: It’s amazing, but “Bee Movie” gets away with never really exploring the odd friendship (and maybe more) between Barry and Vanessa. It’s a family film so things work out in the end, and Chris Rock, as Mooseblood the mosquito, shows up for one more quality joke.
Random Thoughts: About halfway through the film, when I realize Seinfeld is trying to make me feel sympathy for an insect, I start thinking about other species. I can’t imagine what children would do if someone told a similar tale on the way we treat chickens and cows. (“Bee Movie” even gives a quick nod to the cows at the end). Also, were you able to hear Michael Richards’ voice?
Rewatchability: There is enough going on here that adults should hope their children want to watch this film over and over again as opposed to another session of “High School Musical 2.”
I can’t believe I’m going to say it, but this film is as busy as a bee. It goes from comedy to romance to cross-country adventure to courtroom drama to action flick with every possible bee joke along the way. “Bee Movie” isn’t breaking new ground in animation or ideas. The Pixar films are more impressive, and bugs acting like humans has been done with “Antz” and “A Bug’s Life.” The talents of Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Peter Warburton and John Goodman bump this film up from ordinary. Yes, the bee jokes definitely get old. But Seinfeld gets some laughs with Ray Liotta, Larry King and Sting. Sometimes it’s difficult figuring out an overall grade for a film, yet that’s not the case with “Bee Movie,” it simply had to be a “B.”
Overall Grade: 7