For those of us who have been anxiously waiting for something new from Jerry Seinfeld (Comedian doesn’t count), our wait has ended. The animated adventure Bee Movie marks his return to the spotlight – or does it? Sadly, this is not the breakout feature I had been hoping to see. The reasons are stinging (pun intended).
Although Bee Movie is geared towards children (it is an animated movie about bees after all), I thought it was rather bland and boring. Obviously, I am reviewing this film from an adult perspective since I can’t argue against the notion that children will adore it. It has lots of pretty, vibrant colors and talking insects, both of which are elements that kids absolutely love. What I can raise a flag about is my first observation: this movie has some serious misgivings.
It starts off well enough by introducing us to life in New Hive City and two of its inhabitants: Barry B. Benson (Seinfeld) and his best friend Adam (Matthew Broderick). Both have graduated school and are now facing the daunting prospect of taking an uninspiring job in the hive for the rest of their lives. Adam, he’s okay with this. Barry, not so much. He’s determined to spread his wings and fly out of the hive at least once before he accepts his monotonous place in bee society. That’s all fine and dandy, but on his flight he gets caught in the rain (bees can’t fly in inclement weather) and while seeking shelter, he breaks the most important bee law of them all – he speaks to a human. And this is where things get out of skew – not only does he speak to the lovely Vanessa (Renee Zellweger) again and again, he becomes enamored with her too! And not only does she dump her temperamental boyfriend Ken (Patrick Warburton) for him, but she also helps Barry sue the human race when he discovers humans keep bee farms to collect honey. What a woman!
But that’s not the whole problem. While the story of Bee Movie is rather strange (okay, very strange), it’s the slow going that really stops the movie from taking flight. There is much too much dialogue and inane banter between Barry and Vanessa, and not enough action to keep one’s interest from waning. There are a few bright spots though — the zany defense attorney for the humans, Layton T. Montgomery (John Goodman) has some interesting courtroom tactics that would put Perry Mason to shame and the cameos by Ray Liotta and Sting were clever – but they are few and far between. I can honestly say I was also put off by the monotone droning of Seinfeld’s voice too. What worked so brilliantly in his flagship series Seinfeld is a bane here. Barry B. Benson needed to be livelier, after all his life expectancy is only 1-4 months.
Lastly, I missed the inclusion of any adult-themed humor. For the past few years I’ve been weaned on animated features like Shrek the Third (or the previous two installments) and The Incredibles. I don’t believe there was a single instance of anything that could be construed as out of line here. Like I said, from an adult point of view, Bee Movie is sorely lacking. We can’t have it all.
What you do get with Bee Movie is peace of mind that for the 90 minutes you’re sound asleep in your seat, your child won’t be inundated with questionable material. That coupled with the fact you’ll be loved by your kids for a few extra days for taking them to see it makes it mostly worth the admission price.