In the B-movie world, movie titles and posters often come before the scripts. Similarly, with Bee Movie, creator Jerry Seinfeld first came up with the "bee movie" pun came and then wrote a film to fit the title. Those humble beginnings had me a bit worried before going into this movie; as a huge Seinfeld fan, I really wanted to see the comedian succeed.
Bee Movie gets off to a rather pedestrian start, with humor dominated by lazy puns that, admittedly, are more kid-friendly than what follows. The story follows Barry B. Benson (Seinfeld) upon graduating from college in a New York hive. Unlike his buttoned-down buddy Adam (Matthew Broderick), Barry is distraught at the prospect of doing the same job every day for the rest of his existence. After sullenly lounging around his family's pool — in a scene that heavily references The Graduate — Barry decides to join the "pollen jocks" on their next trip out of the hive. From there, the movie starts to gain laughs and momentum, so
Barry befriends a florist named Vanessa Bloome (Renee Zellweger), who is dating, against her better judgment but to our entertainment, an obnoxious jock voiced by Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld's Puddy). Barry breaks bee rule No. 1 and speaks to a human, and soon, he's smitten with Vanessa and the outside world.
The plot picks up when Barry learns that humans are "stealing" bee honey and selling it in supermarkets, leading to a dramatic, action-packed story that pokes fun at corporate litigation and champions the importance of the environment.
The movie has the same saccharine look as other Dreamworks projects, but thankfully, Bee Movie forgoes the usual fart jokes in favor of classic Seinfeld delivery, surprising cameos, and witty pop-culture references. When Barry survives being swatted with a pamphlet, he mourns: "I lost a cousin to Italian Vogue once."
As a fan of Seinfeld's comedy, I found this movie far funnier than most animated features. My main gripe is that I'm not sure how entertaining it would be for kids. At my screening, the big laughs were undoubtedly adult guffaws, and I heard one boy, who looked to be about 10, say afterwards that he found it boring. Unfortunately, I can't offer an opinion from the kid perspective, but as an adult, I'm glad to see Seinfeld succeeding in a new medium.
Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures