Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
|Featuring:||Jerry Seinfeld, Renée Zellweger, Uma Thurman, Kathy Bates, Alan Arkin, Robert Duvall, William H. Macy, Tim Blake Nelson, Patrick Warburton, Oprah Winfrey, Matthew Broderick|
|Director:||Steve Hickner, Simon J. Smith|
|Producer:||Jerry Seinfeld, Christina Steinberg, Cameron Stevning|
“Hold on to your honey.”
2007 has been a disappointing year for animated family films. “Shrek 3” proved that it needed the master touch of Andrew Adamson, and “Meet the Robinsons” proved a little too offbeat for mainstream audiences. Only “Ratatouille” lived up to expectations, so does “Bee Movie” put animated films back on track? In truth, it depends on your age and expectations.
“Bee Movie” is the story of a Bee who tires of working the same old job every day and ventures out from the hive where he encounters and befriends a human florist. Eventually he finds out that humans are “stealing” the honey that they work so hard to make and decides to file a lawsuit against the human race.
Now, the plot sounds promising indeed, and the story is fairly well paced, but ultimately the film appeals mainly to children. When the movie was over, the children in the audience cheered while some parents awoke. In fairness, it is an entertaining movie, but with ticket prices as high as they are now you should probably wait for the DVD unless you have children who are dying to see it. I suspect the film will also appeal to Jerry Seinfeld fans as well. There are some good jokes and many pop cultural gags, including the appearance of “Sting” of the Police band.
In terms of warnings to adults, there are, as usual, some inappropriate gags and comments. There are references to “draining the stinger” (when a bee needs to use the bathroom), a sexual reference to a “bedbug,” “shacking up,” illegitimate children, a “drag queen,” and “lust” is mentioned as well. There is a reference to “bejesus” which is meant to be a play on Bees and Jesus, and some might be offended by the reference to Larry King as being “very Jewish” (although the actor who says the line is himself Jewish).
What may disturb some parents more than these elements are the subtle, and occasionally not so subtle, political and social commentaries that run throughout the film. Now, in fairness, I should say that the movie does not have a political agenda, but it clearly reflects the political and social agendas of its authors. The commentary is, therefore, either more subtle or more subversive depending on your point of view.
The most subtle reference is to Evolution. We are told repeatedly that bees have been around for 27 million years (which is refuted by Creation Scientists). There is no specific mention of Evolution, but the assumption is there. More overt is the ecological/mother nature mindset in which the human race is seen as a parasite. Throughout the trial, man is not only depicted as thieves and parasites, but the Creationist view of nature seems to be mocked. The lawyers for “Honeyburton” and “Honron” (which are slaps at Haliburton and Enron) are villains who speak of the “Creation God made,” but are shown as sort of leaches. The lawyer finally comments that the Bees’ victory is an “unholy perversion of the balance of nature.” Finally, the Bee protest becoming “honey slaves to the white man!” Now, it is to be admitted that the lawyer’s prophecy comes true for the Bee learns that nature was in balance before he filed the lawsuit, thus negating much of the very premise laid earlier in the film, but it does not change the fact that Creationists are not fairly portrayed. Still, the imagery is one that will easily pass over most people without a thought. Some might say this is the problem. Others will say that this is crying over spilled milk. After all… it is a movie about talking bees!
Overall, I felt that the story showed promise, but was not that well executed, despite some good humor and computer animation. It seemed to lack the charm of better animated films. Last year’s crop of animated films was quite good, featuring movies like “Hoodwinked,” “Cars,” “Curious George,” and “Over the Hedge.” This year only “Ratatouille” lived up to expectations. I believe that “Bee Movie” will be successful, considering the competition this year, and children will love it, but adults without children may as well wait for the DVD.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.