Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bee Movie: Grade B

Bee Movie (2007)

Jerry Seinfeld (co-wrote), Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, John Goodman, Chris Rock, Ray Liotta, Sting, Oprah Winfrey, Larry King. Directors Steve Hickner, Simon J. Smith. (Animated).

The grade was not pre-ordained despite the double entendre title, but the jokes and gags are not plentiful enough to sustain the film as a joke-fest, yet the story is too weak to make an interesting drama. Seinfeld’s wit is scintillating as ever and his droll delivery reminds us who’s behind the protagonist. But that’s the problem. If this is supposed to be a Seinfeld stand-up routine, the pace is too slow. If it is supposed to be a kids’ cartoon, it is too sophisticated and not dramatic enough. If it is supposed to be a social commentary, the theme is missing.

Barry the bee (Seinfeld) leaves the hive, discovers that humans eat honey, and is appalled. He decides to sue the humans to end the exploitation. He is assisted in the human world by Vanessa, a housewife (Zellweger) who appreciates bees. After the lawsuit is successful, the bees have plenty of honey and stop working. Crops wither from lack of pollination. I can’t remember how that crisis is resolved, so limp is the dramatic tension of the story.

The animation is adequate though the visual gags are weak, not what we saw in Antz, for example. But the Seinfeld wit is omnipresent. Having Sting criticized for exploiting a bee theme is a stroke of brilliant silliness. Chris Rock is predictably hilarious. The sophisticated verbal humor raises the picture above average (for adults) but overall, I get the impression that this film was just a lark for everyone involved.

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