Seinfeld’s smart “Bee Movie” earns an “A”
Today, many parents listen in horror as they hear all-too-frequently that their kids are watching feature length Disney films during school time, often utilized by teachers who need a time killer so they can grade papers. Parents and teachers alike can thank Jerry Seinfield, whose new film “Bee Movie” might just be the most entertaining educational film ever made.
Oh, it wasn’t necessarily intended to be an educational film. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) But its ingenious setting inside a beehive, coupled with Seinfeld’s wondrous observational humor and attention to detail, give the film a remarkable originality and a honeycomb of informational prowess.
Seinfeld produced and wrote the film and acts as the lead voice of busy bee Barry B. Benson, a precocious graduate of Bee College who now must make his career choice. Anxious about the fact that whatever his occupation he must live with it the rest of his drone life gives him pause-he hasn’t even seen the world outside the hive. His best friend Adam (Matthew Broderick) tries to talk sense into him as they discuss the recent demise of a fellow classmate. Barry notes “Everbody knows that when you sting someone you die-I’m not wasting it on a squirrel!”
He eventually ventures out of the hive care of some honey-extracting “pollen jocks” and is amazed by what he sees. Narrow escapes are thrillingly captured as Barry has near misses with a taxi, a broom, a tennis ball and (scariest of all) a human. But wait, Vanessa (Renee Zellweger) actually tries to protect little Barry from her magazine-clutching, bee-allergic lug of a boyfriend (Patrick Warburton).
Barry talks with Vanessa, violating a strict bee rule, and even more precipitously, seems to fall for her. The movie kicks into high gear when Barry is shocked to learn that humans harvest and consume honey-mostly on the backs of doped-up captive bees and that it’s sold through “evil” corporations like “Honeyburton.” (Get it?)
Besides all the rapid fire bee jokes that rely on Seinfeld’s happy anthropologist’s wit-there are other below the surface messages that are subtly introduced.
It could be said that “Bee Movie” is a cautionary tale, as Barry learns a valuable lesson about the importance of pollination in the delicately balanced ecosystem. Many of the pop culture asides, including winks at “The Graduate,” and involving the voices of Chris Rock, Sting and Ray Liotta (inspired touches all) will certainly go over the head of many kids. But “Bee Movie” is much more than a fun kids’ movie that’s only tolerable to parents.
Anyone smarter than a fifth grader will get a kick out the ingenuity, stellar animation, and relentless higher level humor (what, no poop jokes?) of a film that will reward multiple viewings. Seinfeld, once the master of the small screen domain proves adept at the big screen as well.
Rated PG for a few scary moments and some adult humor