a critiQal film review Bee Movie (2007)

Plot: Barry B. Benson (Seinfeld), a bee who has just graduated from college, has his life saved by a florist (Zellwegger) during a trip outside of his hive. As their friendship grows, he discovers humans have been stealing honey, and he files a class action lawsuit against humans.

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After seeing Dreamwork Animation’s , we were anxious to see what else they had up their sleeves. So, when Bee Movie was announced, and Jerry Seinfeld had the lead voice, it sounded wonderful.

Wonderful, until we heard about the plot. A animated film about a bee suing humans? Our first thought: do we really need an animated version of “Law & Order”? We didn’t think so, so decided to give this one a pass in theaters. Now that it’s on DVD, we were willing to give it a shot – after all, after the terrific job they did with , surely they could make an animated lawsuit worth watching, right?

As is usual with a Dreamwork Animation picture (the studio behind and Shark Tale, among others), they’ve managed to pull in a slew of stars to voice the various characters.

Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian who helped make his show about nothing into a cultural event, takes the lead voice, Barry B. Benson. While his comedic wit is no duller than it was on “Seinfeld,” since it is so recognizable, it will take the viewer a bit of time to get used to hearing it come from an animated bee – time that couled have been used to build up audience empathy with the main character.

The other character voices seem to fit their roles quite a bit better. Renee Zellwegger seems perfectly cast as the voice of the florist Barry befriends, as does old pal Patrick Warburton as the self-infatuated boyfriend of the florist. Even Chris Rock and John Goodman work well in Bee Movie, in their roles as a high-strung mosquito and a smug lawyer, respectively.

Normally, having an acclimation period where the audience gets used to picturing the famous voice with an animated bee could be rough on a film, but in Bee Movie the filmmakers realized there would be this distancing (or worried their target audience of young children would lose interest with a long introduction), so shoot almost straight into the storyline, with almost no build-up whatsoever.

This is both good and bad. Since there is that acclimation period, a lot of the introduction would have been lost, but without it, the movie seems a bit frenetic and uneven. This uneven quality of the film continues throughout, as it seems the filmmakers tried to put too much into the short time frame they had.

While the first interactions between Barry, the florist and Warburton’s character seem to flow easily, the discovery of honey exploitation and the subsequent trial seem to slow down the film, which lingers overly long on the trial. After the trial, the filmmakers seemed to realize how little film time they had left, so the ending feels incredibly rushed.

While the trial is a major stumbling block for the film, the film shows it’s real weakness as the end nears, and things become harder and harder to believe. After grounding the film somewhat in reality (ie…a trial in this sue-happy state of mind humans seem to be in lately), the film goes off into left field and forgets completely about trying to maintain a semblance of reality. It’s as if the filmmakers had decided the trial completely hooked their audience, so they could then proceed to do whatever they wanted without losing anyone.

Unfortunately, the trial does little to actually hook the audience, and any leftover remnants of attachment the viewer has felt towards the characters in Bee Movie after the first interactions between Zellwegger and Seinfeld’s characters is almost completely wasted by the ridiculousness of the end, leaving the viewers to finish off the film feeling rather disappointed.

If you are going into this movie thinking you’re going to find another gem like Shrek or , you’re going to be sadly disappointed. Instead, it falls shy of the minimum 2nd viewing mark requirement of owning the film, but does manage to keep itself slightly above Sony’s recent disastrous foray into animation, .

While most may somewhat enjoy Bee Movie on it’s first run through, it doesn’t seem to be one of those films that viewers will want to enjoy over and over again – despite some decent sequences (with most of those revolving around Warburton’s character).

If you’re looking for something truly entertaining that you’re bound to watch over and over again, skip this Bee Movie and check out the original or .

With their memorable sayings (“And in the morning…I’m makin’ waffles!”; “But I like the cookie…”) and hilarious laugh-out-loud moments, they easily outclass the highly forgettable Bee Movie.

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