– Summary –
Director : Simon J Smith + Steve Hickner
Year Of Release : 2007
Principal Cast : Jerry Seinfeld, Renee Zellweger, Patrick Warburton, Matthew Broderick, Chris Rock, Kathy Bates, Barry Levinson, John Goodman, Rip Torn, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Richards, Larry King, Jim Cummings, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille.
Approx Running Time : 91 Minutes
Synopsis: After befriending a local florist, a young bee is shocked to learn that humans use bee honey in quantities that are beyond startling. He decides to fight back. After all, it’s the bees honey.
What we think : Pleasant, undemanding animated film has plenty of nice humor and typically droll Seinfeld jokes, and asks very little of its audience.
You know, much has been made about the gradual decline of quality in CG Animated films. Specifically, the reduction in quality from studio’s such as Dreamworks and Blue Sky. The Shrek movies waned quite quickly, Madagascar never took off (yet still managed to rate a sequel!) and Ice Age 2 was a trial of endurance. And don’t even get me started on A Shark Tale.
Yet, for all the failures, every so often a real gem is unearthed: a few years back it was Hoodwinked (which, if I can ever get more hours in the day, I might actually get to review at some stage….) and this time, it’s Bee Movie.
This is a delightful film, charming and funny, with wonderful animation and a story that’s good for the kiddies. It gets a bit much with the “moral” moments, the point at which the characters figure out what we already know, and tends to beat the audience across the face numerous times as to the vulgarity of human existence by comparison to the rest of our worlds inhabitants, but this can be overlooked quite simply, and doesn’t denigrate the story too much at all.
Produced by Jerry Seinfeld and Steven Spielberg, Bee Movie is simply that: a film about bees. With a play on the use of the old cinematic term B-Movie, a second rate or low budget affair. Here, though, the budget was enough to produce a lovely little feature film about a bee (Barry B Benson) who discovers that humans have been stealing and using honey for free, with no compensation paid to the animals who make it at all. Barry doesn’t like this, and, after befriending a human woman (Vanessa, played by Renee Zellweger) takes humanity to court to get the honey back.
That’s the nutshell version.
The film is rather fluffy, light and filled with casual one-liners from Seinfeld, as you’d expect. There are your typical Bee-jokes, honey jokes, and movie references galore, with plenty to spot for film fan’s.
John Goodman plays the rapscallion lawyer who is up to defend humanity from the claims made by Barry, a large, obsequious man with few morals and a “win at all costs” attitude. It’s here that the film generates much of it’s tension, as Barry and his fellow bees have to justify their claims. Goodman’s vocal performance is superb, as is everybody else’s associated with the film.
It goes without saying that almost all commercial CG Animated films made by the major studio’s have some kind of moral center, a teaching aide of you will for the kiddies who are watching. Often, it’s subtle. Hidden in the characters and the storyline. Other times, like here in Bee Movie, the film wears it’s Message on it’s sleeve. Sometimes, this can work against the film, as people often get annoyed at being preached to by filmmakers, people who may or may not be better than them. Bee Movie is a not-so-subtle message film about taking things for granted. Some will complain that the message of the film is too pro-animal rights, too much about what damage we, as a species, are doing to our planet. Honestly, this is just the kind of message we really need to be bashed across the head with, yet some will insist it’s gross overstatement by the filmmakers.
That said, it’s easy to overlook the message of the film simply to enjoy the sheer fun of things. The film rattles along with a jaunty feel, quite content to appear busy and speedy in the process. The jokes fly at you think and fast, Seinfeld obviously enjoying himself during recording the material and it shows in the final product.
If you enjoy a good story, with plenty of subtle in-jokes and references to other films, you’ll most likely enjoy the heck out of Bee Movie.