Movie review: Bee Movie
Vail, CO, Colorado
Jerry Seinfeld isn’t a very convincing bee. And he’s not that good at writing kids’ movies.
Besides the dizzying animation graphics that make you feel like you’re swooping over flowers and getting flushed down a toilet, the heart and soul of “Bee Movie” is packed around Seinfeld’s weak one-liners. And, unlike truly clever cartoons (“The Incredibles,” the “Toy Story” and “Shrek” series), “Bee Movie” not only has no clear moral or message, but doesn’t even bother developing its characters beyond what feels like wild stand-up improvisation props.
Seinfeld voices the protagonist, young Barry Benson the bee, who is having second thoughts about signing his life away to the labor-intensive task of making honey. Rather than selecting an available career position (stirring, crud removal, etc.), Barry jets off with the tough, Robocop-esque pollen collecting bees and has himself an adventure. He is bounced around a tennis court, stuck in the rain, trapped in a room with humans and nearly squished by a square-jawed meathead until he is rescued by the meathead’s girlfriend, Vanessa the florist (voice of Renee Zellweger). Immediately smitten, Barry decides he wants to break his species’ most dire regulation and speak to Vanessa to thank her for saving his life.
Although she’s shaken for a split second, wondering why a bee can talk, Vanessa quickly offers Barry a cup of coffee (which he drinks through a tiny straw) and the two of them become pals.
Of course, Barry’s friends and family are aghast when they learn he’s consorting with humans, but it’s not long before Barry’s energy is diverted elsewhere. Upon entering a grocery store riding lovingly (and ridiculously) on Vanessa’s shoulder, Barry discovers for the first time that humans are manufacturing, selling and eating honey. He instantly views this as a monumental act of theft.
The film at this point spirals into a no-man’s land of idiotic scenarios, not to mention the point of no return of ever becoming a kids’ favorite. Barry decides, on behalf of all bees, to file a lawsuit against all humans involved in making and selling honey. Before you know it he and his bee buddy are decked out in suits and sitting in a courtroom, battling an obese defense attorney and attempting to convince a human jury of the injustice their kind has suffered.
Tell me Seinfeld, what kid wants to watch an animated film whose so-called plot takes place in a courtroom? Seriously. It’s like John Grisham meets Fat Albert, with all sorts of incomprehensible banter that is probably supposed to be classified as “adult humor,” but doesn’t produce so much as a smirk. Take, for example, some of the top sound bites; like when Barry is being asked by the press about his yellow and black wardrobe and he says “my sweater’s Ralph Lauren and I’m not wearing pants.” Or when he’s at Vanessa’s apartment and announces “I gotta go drain the stinger.” Um. Why would a bee, even a silly animated one with Jerry Seinfeld’s voice, ever wear a sweater? And why would it ever need to use a bathroom?
Then there’s the scene of the aforementioned attorney getting stung by Barry’s right-hand bee, who, in order to be kept alive, ends up in a giant hospital bed on an IV of honey. Honestly, Seinfeld. Courtrooms AND hospitals? It’s a cartoon! A 10-year-old could have written a more coherent screenplay than this. Luckily, throw in a couple of action sequences involving a bee surfing around a toilet on a nail file and inadvertently knocking out some airplane pilots and the 10-year-olds in the audience might be amused enough to forget that the movie as a whole is totally dumb.
By the end, a truce of sorts is reached between the bees and humans. The bees resume their labor and it’s not really clear if the film’s message is to take pride in one’s work no matter how menial and mindless, to simply not be lazy, or just to try your own hand at writing a children’s film. I vote for the latter. Really, put your imagination to work and start jotting down ideas. You’re bound to be better at it than the guys that came up with “Bee Movie.”