by Jake Triola
Bee Movie is the tale of a young nonconformist bee named Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld), who’s fed up with the status-quo, which is, apparently, pretty harsh in the world of bees.Every bee goes to school, then to work, and then they die. Not only that, once a bee is assigned a designated role in the hive, it does not change. When our hero learns of this, he and his bee friend, Adam Flayman (Matthew Broderick), decide to sneak away with some “Pollen Jocks” to collect pollen in the big city and avoid being stuck in the hive forever. Here, Barry meets a human.
Vanessa (Renée Zellweger) is a florist who saves Barry’s life after her boyfriend, Ken (Patrick Warburton), tries to swat him away. The two hit it off and become close friends. Their relationship, which seems like it could be a little more than platonic (?), is rebellious. Barry isn’t supposed to interact with humans, and Vanessa is a human who talks to a bee that also becomes her best friend (??). When Barry follows her to a grocery store and finds out that people have been collecting all the honey for their own use, he decides to sue the human race (???).
The animation is what you’d expect from mid-2000s DreamWorks. I suppose the beehive could’ve been breathtaking under the direction of someone other than a guy who worked on Antz. It’s an acerbic thing to say, but lest we forget, this man also contributed to Shrek.
Jerry Seinfeld assumes the role of Barry B. Benson quite well. Zellweger is charming. Oprah plays the judge. John Goodman plays the attorney representing the human race (who else could even remotely pull that off?)and everything that happens is dictated by former Seinfeld writers.
One complaint I always hear is that the writers strived far too hard for Pixar, but that’s not the case. These writers know who they are; each knows his own voice. But the execution is poor and, ultimately, awkward. One reviewer addresses a concern that shouldn’t even have been present in the first place: “there is no sex in the movie at all, but surprisingly uncalled for innuendo.” There’s also a suicide pact joke, as well as a weird incest thing in the first five minutes. It’d be all in good fun, you know, with the right tone backing it. To whom you’d market that movie I have no clue.
The material Seinfeld, a legend in his own right and a clearly competent comedian, presents is just the perfect recipe for the layered irony of the internet culture which would appropriate it ten years after the film’s release (it’s even listed on the official “Internet memes” list of Wikipedia). I wonder if 2017 Jerry gets meme culture. He probably does, being the face of THE postmodern television series. I think that alone exonerates the man of his crimes, no matter what your actual Bee Movie opinions are.