‘Bee Movie’ – It’s a honey!

Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen

Sensing the time was ripe to stab Caesar in the back, over half the print film critics in America dissed Jerry Seinfeld’s “Bee Movie,” now buzzing about in neighborhood cinema hives from coast to coast.

They must have been expecting a sort of big-screen version of his hit TV show or something, because this sweet animated feature is something else altogether. So pay no attention to those grouchy creeps and buzz off to see this film at your earliest convenience. It’s a honey!

Jerry himself provides the voice of a cheerful little bee, living in a hive in New York’s Central Park, who’s a teen-age rebel without the ‘tude. Chatting with his pal (voice by Matthew Broderick) while he prepares to take his place amongst the bee workers, he decides he wants to see a bit of the outside world before deciding what kind of a job he wants to do.

Much to the horror of his blue-collar parents (Barry Levinson and Kathy Bates), he sets out for the big world and, in a penthouse high above the park, meets and falls in love with a charming florist, played by Renee Zellweger.

The conceit of this film is that all bees can speak English, but have simply never have chosen to talk to human-type people. Our li’l hero breaks that zillion-year-old silence, and as his adventure shifts into high gear, he finds that humans steal and consume most of the honey from beehives. Natch, with the help of his new friend, he decides to sue the honey industry. What else would a sophisticated New York apian do?

And that’s just the get-go of a charming film that’s full of chuckles, bright music, and several out-and-out guffaws.

Chris Rock, in two brief scenes, nearly steals the show playing Mooseblood, a whacked-out mosquito, and John Goodman is hilariously over-the-top as the beefy lawyer representing the honey industry (satirized here as those cigarette bigshots we all so on trial on TV).

I was a bit nervous about viewing this film fairly because, frankly, I’ve had a lifelong aversion to honey. It’s icky, it’s gooey, and I just can’t abide its taste or texture. Besides, who knows how those bees make the stuff? I strongly suspect the process is like the manufacture of sausage, a procedure most of us choose to avoid. But by the time we were halfway through “Bee Movie,” I was honestly tempted to race out to the concession stand for a Bit o’ Honey candy bar or some other such soporific substance. Somehow, I controlled myself until my head cleared, and I was safely back in my own livingroom.

I doubt if Seinfeld himself knew, back when Stephen Spielberg first asked him to create this movie, that it would have such social significance. But, as luck would have it, the film comes buzzing right out of today’s headlines.

There have been several news items and TV documentaries (“Nature” aired one on PBS just last night) about America’s disappearing bee population. These popular pollinators, it seems, are vanishing from their hives at an alarming rate, thusly endangering the pollination of our fruit and vegetable crops, never mind flowers.

So “Bee Movie” is worth seeing on several levels. It’s highly entertaining for grownups and youngsters alike, and it will also serve as a primer on Mankind’s latest attempt to commit suicide.

Meanwhile, Back at the Dixie:

“Across the Universe,” a first-run feature in Augusta County, sweeps us through the many social changes of the 1960s on the magical wings of Beatles’ music. It’s a wild one with a unique approach to moviemaking.

  

Carl Larsen is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press. Look for his At the Movies column on Mondays.

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