Written by Pollo Misterioso
Bee Movie is the recently released Dreamworks 3D animated feature that centers around the life of bees, or more specifically the life of Barry B. Benson, voiced by Seinfeld. For a film that got so much hype and attention, especially since it was the first major project that Jerry Seinfeld signed onto since his much loved show, I would have expected something with a little more bite, or perhaps in this case sting. Unfortunately, it was all just a lot of buzz.
So enter the world of bees, where life inside the honeycomb is as busy as, well, a bee? Barry is about to graduate from school and get a job within the community that will ultimately be his job for the rest of his life. For him, there are bigger and better things than stirring the honey everyday and he winds up on a pollen-collecting mission that takes him out of the comb. Once outside the honeycomb he meets Vanessa Bloom (how appropriate for a florist) who is voiced by Renee Zellweger; they become fast friends. This is because bees can talk to humans.
Barry soon becomes outraged with the way that honey is distributed and used by humans, therefore he sues and the bees no longer pollinate or make honey. When the bees take a break, devastation strikes the entire world; without bees to pollinate, no vegetation will thrive. With that, natural order is finally restored when the bees go back to doing what they do best and Barry becomes a pollen jock and a lawyer that represents other under-appreciated species.
The film plays more like an environmental public service announcement: save the bees, or we will all waste away. But at least it is nice to look at. Overdramatic in its devastation of all of New York, the film makes Central Park look like a landfill after the strike. Apparently with no one to pollinate, there is no more food within the year.
If one can get past this message that seems to be uncomfortably obvious, there is no novelty and it lacks the charm that is present in most 3D animated films. Films like this are so pleasant because of its genuine and enchanting way of showing us the world we already know through another set of eyes—in this case through the eyes of Barry. But when the unknown world mixes with what we already know, the line between fantasy-fun and just crazy becomes blurred. Did I mention that the bees talk to humans?
Some of the most entertaining scenes are within the honeycomb, where honey is used for everything, from hair gel to toothpaste, and it is used as the water in a swimming pool. Even their antennas are like blue-tooth headsets that pick up signals from other bees.
I just can’t seem to get past the human/insect relationship that develops between our characters. It is too unbelievable, and yes, that is hard to do in a film like this. The storyline even hints at a love story that is happening between Barry and Vanessa. This is just a perfect example of how Bee Movie took on too much for it to handle. Our protagonist just wants to do something outside of the hive. Of course he does find his place again, but suing humans and going to court is a pretty strange way to get there. Bee Movie clearly tried to be timely and appropriate for people of all ages, but in its struggle to be marketable (just look at the trailers that Seinfeld did, they are in the special features of the DVD) it lost the heart of a great story and nothing creates more buzz than that.
There is a separate DVD containing more special features in the two-disc edition of the film. This includes games and trivia about the film. An interesting extra is “Meet Barry B. Benson” and you can ask him questions about life as a bee. There is a separate selection of extras for kids that includes “A Buzz Bout Bees” and “That’s Un-bee-lieveable” which are trivia games about bees. “Tech of Bee Movie” which is a behind-the-scenes look at the film, with interviews from the director, actors and it goes into the technical side of the film. Also take a look at the live action trailers, and “Jerry’s Flight over Cannes” which documents Jerry’s trip to Cannes Film Festival.