Touted as Jerry Seinfeld’s first major project since the 1998 end of his long-running eponymous TV series, 2007’s computer-animated BEE MOVIE stars the popular comedian as the voice of Barry B. Benson, a young bee eager to explore the world outside of his hive. As he discovers how people live in New York City, he befriends a human florist, Vanessa Bloome (Renee Zellweger), and becomes outraged at the selling of honey, leading to a lawsuit and, of course, plenty of Seinfeldian misadventures. Helmed by directors Steve Hickner (THE PRINCE OF EGYPT) and Simon J. Smith (a member of the SHREK creative team), BEE MOVIE lightens Seinfeld’s notoriously stinging humor for a family audience, while staying true to its inherent New York-bred quirkiness. This leaves room for the film to feature impressive (if anatomically incorrect) bug-oriented CGI animation and a solid supporting cast that includes Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, John Goodman, Chris Rock, and Ray Liotta (who plays a honey-peddling animated version of himself). Although it inhabits some of the same insect-populated territory as A BUG’s LIFE and ANTZ, BEE MOVIE also nods to THE GRADUATE (admittedly a Seinfeld favorite) in its restless protagonist, resulting in a playful and thoroughly entertaining film that even manages to work an environmental message into its colorful palette.
The best way to watch this movie, if your not a kid, is with a kid. There is no way it would have been half as interesting without my kids laughing at the mediocre laughs. There is a lot to think about for kids but thankfully, just like with The Simpsons, kids don’t care if they always get the joke. But therein lies the problem–someone should have mentioned to Mr. Seinfeld that this is supposed to be a movie for kids. Parents don’t care if there are jokes in there for them–unless its brilliant ala the Simpsons of King of the Hill. Bee Movie can’t hold a candle to either of those cartoons.
It would seem that there is some moral to the story–maybe that you should never just go with the masses because everyone else is–but that idea went right over my kids head. They just wanted to laugh at silly jokes and capers. Perhaps the most ridiculous portion of the movie is Barry’s relationship with the human florist Vanessa (Renee Zellweger). This sets up the movie’s premise about the conspiracy that human companies are committing against bees. It is quite possibly the worst premise for a cartoon movie since–give me some more time to ponder the answer.