Bee Movie, now out on DVD, was nominated for Best Animated Picture at the Golden Globes but denied a similar nomination at the Academy Awards. The movie, starring Jerry Seinfeld, is an entertaining, well-animated comedy, but the Oscars got it right: there's nothing special to be seen here.
Bee Movie is about one young bee who has just graduated into the working world - in other words, a working world where bees are relegated to specific tasks and expected to do the same thing for the rest of their lives. When he decides to see what's outside the hive, however, he finds himself in an exciting but dangerous world run by humans. There, he meets a human woman (Renee Zellweger) and decides to break the one sacred rule: do not talk to humans. The two strike up a close and, admittedly, disturbing relationship. When the bee learns that humans use honey for personal gain, however, he sets out to sue humanity for taking advantage of bee labor.
The movie is in line with other similar movies such as A Bug's Life and Antz and never really tries to do anything new, other than to make a courtroom drama out of an animated family film. There are some funny parts and, overall, the movie is enjoyable little fare, but anyone who says the film is any better than that is wrong. Bee Movie is a B-grade animated movie; it's not bad, but it's not great, either.
Families starved for safe, entertaining fare will do just fine in showing Bee Movie to children; kids should find the movie good enough. The first half is definitely better than the second, as the movie has a lot more action, adventure and comedy that is more in line with what you'd expect from this kind of movie. The animation is some of the best I've seen that hasn't been produced by Pixar, as highlighted in the sequence where Seinfeld's character first leaves the hive and finds himself in all kinds of danger. Kids should have a blast with this sequence.
Unfortunately, the second half suffers greatly as the story takes an odd twist. Why Seinfeld (who co-wrote the screenplay) thought that kids would find amusement in a story about a bee suing humanity is beyond me; hell, I don't even find this plot very interesting. The whole third act of the movie is dull, and as such Bee Movie never achieves a label other than "standard." Overall, the screenplay is decent; Seinfeld inserts a fair amount of his trademark sarcasm, though not enough to warrant calling the film a "Jerry Seinfeld film." I would have liked to see more Seinfeld-esque jokes in the movie.
For what it is, Bee Movie is good enough, but no one, including Seinfeld, should fool themselves into thinking that this flick is anything more than decent.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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