Directors: Simon J. Smith, Steve Hickner
Cast: Jerry Seinfield, Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, Patrick Warburton, Chris Rock, John Goodman
Plot: Barry. B. Benson (Seinfield) questions his existence as a worker bee, when he develops an unexpected friendship with a human (Zellweger).
Bee Movie has kind of faded away in the public eye, despite being praised as genius film-making when it was first released. Dreamworks haven’t had the consistency of their big rivals, Pixar, (although with Cars and Planes in our recent memory, perhaps now is time for a Dreamworks catch-up), and Bee Movie is one of their projects that has accumulated mixed reviews. For the most part, it is a really good, funny movie. Taking the loveable creature route that is pretty much a must for any hit children’s animation, Dreamworks focus their movie on bees. It turns out that this is a great source of comedy, helped by the bright colours that the animation team are allowed to play around with. Determined to fit some morals into the story, we spend some time with the amusing bee colony and then shake up the narrative by introducing the humans. Jerry Seinfield’s Barry meets Renee Zellweger’s equally likeable Vanessa, and the writers begin dissecting the relationship between the bees and humanity. It is an interesting idea and there is no lack of jokes for the concept. It also helps that Dreamworks hire some laugh-out-loud cameos to feature in the movie. There is never a dull moment for the audience.
Unless you are a child. Bee Movie suffers a critical flaw in the fact that it is just too clever for its own good. I was laughing out loud at some of the witty remarks that echo Woody Allen’s own approach to the insect animation genre, Antz. However, as you chuckle at a sharp piece of observational comedy, you wonder who that joke was aimed at. Bee Movie attracts the younger crowd with fun colours and cutesy animal characters plastered all over the advertising, but when the children get there, they are treated to a satirical approach to bee colonies and their real meaning. This feeling is especially strong, when Bee Movie evolves into a courtroom drama. No, it is not boring, with the witty jokes and inspired cameos coming into their own. However, you cannot help but wonder what place these scenes have in a children’s comedy. I appreciate jokes aimed at an older audience, so taking your child to the cinema doesn’t become an arduous chore, but Bee Movie misses the fine balance between adult humour and children’s film. Yes, Bee Movie is fun, but maybe not so much, when your seven year old begins getting fidgety next to you.
Again, it is hard to criticise Bee Movie, because it is good cinema. The actors are on fine form. Seinfield’s career was a little empty until this, making Bee Movie a revival project for the famous stand-up comedian. Zellweger is always a safe bet for this kind of role (although her face is totally unrecognisabl… oh wait, it’s an animation. False alarm!). Better are the supporting characters with Chris Rock doing what he does best, Madagascar helping him nail his voiceover work. John Goodman gets to have fun as the sleazy Southern lawyer, oozing nastiness and terrifically parodying the blood-sucking lawyer (although again, jokes going directly over young one’s heads). Best of all though could be Patrick Warburton, who we all know as Joe from Family Guy. His voice just lends itself to animation and when he goes full angry, you cannot help but wish that he would get more roles that ask the actor to just have fun on the big screen.
Final Verdict: The Bee Movie is a good piece of animated comedy, but it loses touch with who the jokes are aimed at.