Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Bee Movie

The Bee Movie (2007) was the "next big thing" for Jerry Seinfeld after his classic television series. As a result it is possible expectations were a bit unreasonable. When I first saw it I was not overly impressed. However, circumstances developed in such a way that I saw it again.

Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld) is a student come hippie bee who, in the middle of his strenuous 9 day school career, took a day off to walk around the hive and discover himself.

His best friend Adam Flayman (Matthew Broderick) is a more typical bee. He is excited about the possibility of spending his life working on the Krelman, a device in which he puts a large finger on his head to catch drips of honey before they fall to the ground and are wasted. He never really "gets' the "perverse" desire of Barry to see the outside world, to think about his choices in life, to talk to humans, to sue them for stealing the honey from the bees...he just wants to go to work every day and do the best job he can on the Krelman.

It does prove possible for Barry to get out of the hive. In what starts as a joke he is allowed to join the mighty "pollen jocks".
The pollen jocks are usually the only bees allowed outside the hive...and bees like Barry are a primary reason why.

Here he is flying with the pollen jocks...before he gets stuck to a tennis ball and launched into the atmosphere.

Separated from the other bees, he makes a bizarre cross city flight

It ends when he gets plastered on the windshield of a fast moving truck.

There he encounters Mooseblood (Chris Rock) in one of the all-time wastes of vocal talent. Chris Rock is a great voice talent and his voice is very recognizable.

This is about the only time we see him, though, other than a throw-away gag at the end about being a lawyer because "I was already a bloodsucker. All I needed was a briefcase."

The villain of the piece is Layton T. Montgomery, the lawyer for the honey corporations. He is a parody of people who believe humans are more important than animals and they do not have equality. One can only assume Seinfeld and his co-writers are major PETA sponsors for how they present Montgomery during the trial. It still strikes me as a cheap swipe at Williams Jenning Bryan, the (ironically) Democrat "home spun" Great Commoner who prosecuted the case against John Scopes at the famous "Monkey Trial" with the obvious difference that Bryan won the case in court but lost in the court of public opinion whereas Montgomery loses in court...and the result, much like the Monkey Trial, is a disaster.

The sub-story has to do with the pseudo-

The other storyline has to do with the pseudo-romance of Barry and Vanessa Bloome (Rene Zellwegger), a human who first talks to Barry, later helps him file the lawsuit, and eventually helps land the plane in the grand finale after they steal the last float just in time to re pollinate the flowers and save the world.

The movie is working on a variety of levels. It is making a social statement about the relative values of human and bee lives (though not other animals...when Vanessa kills a mosquito during Barry's dream they find it hilarious and a bear helping them win the case is nothing but a captive prop they critique for its habits), about people who use the resources available in the world and so forth. However, it ends up contradicting itself and as a result the message is pretty garbled.

Fortunately, along the way there are a lot of great jokes, both verbal and visual and the story resolves in the classic happy ending we all expect. And on further review...I liked it a lot better the second time. Worth seeing and, past the might even start thinking about a few things.


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