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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Bee Movie (review)

If your idea of comedy gold is really terrible, awful groaners of puns, look to Bee Movie, which can’t get enough of every obvious and unfunny play on insect words imaginable. Guy bees wonder whether a potential lady friend is a “wasp,” or is she “beeish”? Problem is, none of the bees buzzing around here are particularly beeish. Like those other toon headscratchers Robots and Cars, the bees of Bee Movie are tiny humans who wear black-and-yellow sweaters, and by the time it dispenses with even pretending that the bees aren’t bees — as with “Bee Larry King,” who is Larry King playing himself again — I was about ready to throw up. (Speaking of throwing up… How freakin’ lazy and pointless is this dumb flick? You know how, in the real world, forager bees ingest nectar from flowers and then regurgitate it in the hive, where the workers turn it into honey? The “pollen jocks” here use machine nectar-collection devices: there’s no puking involved at all. This movie is so base that it is utterly blatant about the “let’s build a theme park ride from this bit” stuff that is inevitable in animated movies these days, yet it bypasses a chance for a vomit joke.) Not only are the bees nonsensical, so is the plot, even grading on the fantasy curve. Jerry Seinfeld the bee wants to sue us humans for stealing the fruits of beekind’s hard work, but the movie is unable to create a world in which humans and bees believably coexist in the first place. From this absurd premise spins a story so simplistic only very young child will be amused by it. Seinfeld wrote this thing, and that’s plain too: it’s like one of his standup routines — “What’s with these aerodynamically impossible bees, anyway?” — that goes on waaaay too long.

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MPAA: rated PG for mild suggestive humor, and a brief depiction of smoking

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
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  • Aw. That’s a shame. My GF loves bees, so I’ll be seeing this either way. It’s too bad, then, that isn’t awful.

  • Oh crap. I’m going to have to see this with the girlfriend too, and I don’t think there’s any getting out of that. I was really hoping it wouldn’t bee so terrible. (Ha! Get it!)

  • JSW

    So they’re still repeating the myth of aerodynamically impossible bees? That’s almost annoying as the people sho say that it’s the Earth’s rotation that determines the direction water spins as it goes down the drain (hint: the Coriolis effect is far too weak to have any noticeable effect on something as small as a sink or toilet, especially in the time it takes to drain.)

  • MaryAnn

    Yes, they’re still repeating it…

  • Joanna

    Shouldn’t the main characters (heck, most of the characters) in this movie be female? Since they’re, you know, bees, and drones are a pretty small segment of the hive population? Oh wait, I forgot, girls have cooties (even when they’re animated, even when they’re bees), and we can’t possibly expect our wee man!children to sympathize with a female lead. Again.

    Sigh. Hollywood makes me tired.

  • “Shouldn’t the main characters (heck, most of the characters) in this movie be female? Since they’re, you know, bees, and drones are a pretty small segment of the hive population?”

    You’re fighting a losing battle. I’ve been railing against the concept of an “ant girlfriend” for years, with A Bug’s Life, Antz, and whatever that other one that was out last year was called. For some reason, people get freaked out by male cows with udders but don’t mind ignoring basic facts of insect biology. Probably just that insects are less well known.

  • MaryAnn

    You know what’s even worse? The “girl” bees — who all, of course, have beehive hairdos — are unbelievably fucking stupid. So stupid that they are completely fooled into mistaking the scrawny, whiny “Jerry Seinfeld” drone for one of the pumped-up, square-jawed “pollen jocks” who look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and talk like Patrick Warburton merely because the Seinfeld bee smears pollen on himself.

  • When I heard of a Bee Movie, i was hoping briefly that they made the “Clan Apis” graphic novel into a feature film. Oh well, I guess I’ll still have to hope.

  • My late father was a “Seinfeld” fan and I’d ordinarily be tempted to see this in remembrance of him but I doubt he would have liked this movie’s hard-sell advertising campaign so I guess mi novia and I will be seeing “Hairspray” at the second-run theatre this week.

  • Mel

    My grad advisor is a paleoentomologist, and so when one of my labmates told her about the movie today, we got a very entertaining rant about Hollywood and insect biology.

    But I guess making the “pollen jocks” female would have confused the kids.

  • MaryAnn

    I guess making the “pollen jocks” female would have confused the kids.

    Of course it would have. Everyone — even kids — knows that girls don’t do, you know, *stuff.* They just stand around looking pretty.

    Christ, even the human Renee Zellweger character here takes a back seat in the human world to the male bee.

  • Steve Taylor

    As a voting member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, I was sent a half-pound jar of Ray Liotta honey (it’s in the movie). The money they wasted trying to promote this thing should have been plowed into research. Maybe the bees are disappearing because of drek like this?

  • MaryAnn

    No? Seriously? They sent you Ray Liotta honey? Good god…

    Maybe the bees are just embarrassed to death? Yeah, I could buy that.

  • Mat

    This movie wasn’t bad. I liked the movie’s *fictional* take on the inner workings of a beehive. If you buy a ticket to this movie looking for a factual documentary on bee ecology, you deserve the disappointment you will get. It had several funny jokes dispersed throughout. The story line wasn’t the best – it kind of took a “Happy Feet” path (humans are evil) that was a bit annoying. It was nice to see the ignorant, self-important activist with a heart of gold come to realize that the “cause” she worked so hard for was actually a huge mistake, and she even went back to help repair the damage she had helped to cause. (Maybe it will make some people take a step back and think before they act). In this way, it was better than “Happy Feet”.

  • “it kind of took a “Happy Feet” path (humans are evil) that was a bit annoying.”

    I think you’re misrepresenting- Happy Feet was more “humans are ignorant” than “humans are evil.”

  • MaryAnn

    If you buy a ticket to this movie looking for a factual documentary on bee ecology, you deserve the disappointment you will get.

    I don’t think anyone was expecting that. But it would have been nice if the bees were actually somewhat beeish.

  • Ursula Andress honey, I could understand. And even Ava Gardner honey would be comprehensible. (After all, they both played characters named Honey at one point in their career.)

    But Ray Liotta honey? Really? Really?

    Is this supposed to be a reference to “Something Wild”?

  • allen

    It’s unbeeishness would be better than it being so beeish. If it were like all facts it ud be like an animated documentory. and it was pretty good-an-funny for an animation, like when they shot pooh down with the tranqualizer dart.

  • MaryAnn

    Allen, surely you understand that there is a difference between a documentary and a fictional movie that does not abandon all pretense of reality even when that actually works against that fictional story?

  • Krow

    You could tell this one was going to be a dog by the relentless advertisements. Pushing for that massive first weekend payoff before the word gets out.

  • Jeremy

    Well i think bee movie was great U see the guy who wrote the first review wasnt realy looking at the movie in a childs point of veiw thats basically why these movies are made i thought it was a great movie it was a bit weird how Bees sued humans for taking there honey but its great definately getting it on DVD dont take one persons opinion dont take any have your own and go check it out!

  • MaryAnn

    Hey, Jeremy, I’m the “guy” who wrote the review, and you’re right: I didn’t look at it from a child’s perspective. I’m an adult, and I write reviews for adults.

  • Mark

    I enjoy many of your reviews but honestly, what did you expect? You complain that the plot line was absurd but you disregard how the film makers and writers transition through the plot to maintain the logic of the storyline. Certain aspects of the invalidity of what is going on is addressed and others are not.

    As soon as you see the bees driving in cars you have to understand that for the entire story to function many aspects of how bees function in actuality, and how all things function for that matter, is going to be completely fictional. You approached this review as a critic who has set a standard that could never of been met by the standards you set for this type of animated film, hence in my opinion you review is skewed to the point were any merit that the film may of had is lost in your quickness to judge the rational of the premise and not any other aspect of the film.

    Granted the writing of Jerry Seinfeld is completely unaltered, and so far from fresh that new generations are unaware of it’s one-dimensionality. But that is to lose sight of the point: one dimensional as it may be, it is Jerry Seinfeld at his best. Now if you do not like his style of humor or find it repetitious as I do, that is on thing—but it does not change that it is some of his best work. Did you really expect Jerry Seinfeld to have vomiting jokes?

  • Mark

    Please excuse the typos and grammar errors in my comment above; I wrote these posts from my Q and it is hard as hell to edit :)

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