The majority of Dreamworks' animated films are second rate to those of Pixar. For every Antz, there's a much better A Bug's Life. In a year dominated by the brilliance of Pixar's Ratatouille, Dreamworks' Bee Movie plays out more like a B-movie (pun intended) than an A-list competitor.
Bee Movie is the brainchild of comedian Jerry Seinfeld. With Seinfeld, Dreamworks had the perfect opportunity to produce an animated feature about insects that could swim in the same genome pool as the bugs of Life. Instead, there's very little sting to this movie, and aside from a few select moments of brilliance, Seinfeld's film about the lives of bees is largely inconsistent, unfunny, and visually uninspiring.
In the film, Barry Benson (Seinfeld) and his buddy Adam (Matthew Broderick) have just finished their schooling and are ready to enter the adult bee working world. In their hive, there's only one place to work, Honex. There, Barry and Adam will perform the same mundane job of making honey everyday for the rest of their lives. Of all the different types of jobs at Honex, Barry aspires to be a pollen jock. The most glamorous and least routine job, pollen jocks work outside the hive, pollinating flowers and gather nectar.
As part of a trial run, Barry is allowed to fly with the pollen jocks as long as he does not talk to humans and retreats to the hive when it rains. Barry does neither. He gets caught up in a rain storm and is rescued by a bee friendly florist named Vanessa Bloome (Renée Zellweger). Vanessa harbors him safely inside her apartment, and the two talk for hours sharing coffee and crumb cake. They find that their lives are very similar despite their physical differences. Barry instantly falls in love.
But Bee Movie is not a love story, though the concept might make the film more appealing. Instead, Movie is a commentary on the importance bees play in our ecosystem. When Barry finds that humans are perpetrating a major injustice on his fellow bees, he enlists Vanessa's help to make things right.
The final third of Movie deals with Barry's attempt at correcting the ills he perceives and the resulting consequences of his actions. Movie is successful at making its point about bees and our ecosystem, but it achieves it so hastily in a final act that it is completely muddled and nonsensical. The message also begs the question: Will small children even care about what bees do? All they care about is not getting stung. Now that they know more about bees, will they really want to get closer to them? I find that hard to believe.
Go ahead, he won't bite.