A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this has been one of the most aggressively marketed animated movies in recent history. Jerry Seinfeld has left no promotional stone unturned, so chances are that if you've had NBC on in the house for more than 20 minutes, your kids have seen a commercial for this movie. The good news is that it's a film that even preschoolers can follow, and while there are a few tense moments (mostly involving Barry's pell-mell flights through Manhattan), there are no overarching villains or monsters -- or even that many pop-culture references to frighten or confuse kids. There are still a few jokes that will go over little heads, but they're mostly about things like being "Beeish" (the insect equivalent of being Jewish), Larry King, and the boredom of working too hard. Oh, and a mosquito makes a blood-sucking lawyer joke.
What's the story?
Barry Benson (Jerry Seinfeld), who has just graduated from bee college, is horrified to learn that he must pick his life-long job as a worker bee and will never get a day off. But then he gets the chance to leave the hive and ends up flying into the apartment of sweet-natured florist Vanessa Bloome (Renee Zellweger), who saves him from being smooshed by her cocky boyfriend (Seinfeld vet Patrick Warburton). In addition to the interspecies crush that Barry develops on Vanessa, he finds out, to his disgust, that humans flagrantly consume honey -- the nectar his kind toil their entire lives to produce -- in everything from lip balm to tea sweeteners. At that point the comedy takes a slight backseat to a bit of courtroom drama (presided by an Oprah Winfrey-voiced judge), wherein the bees sue the honey corporations.
Is it any good?
The humor is there (Seinfeld is a gifted comedian, even in the form of his alter ego, animated bee Barry Benson), and the story is original. But the animation isn't nearly as amazing as Pixar's, and only a couple of characters get major laughs. Anyone who watches NBC, occasionally eats at McDonald's, or glances at a newspaper's arts and leisure section knows that BEE MOVIE is Jerry Seinfeld's labor of love. He's worked hard promoting the honey out of the picture. But because Seinfeld has left no marketing tool unused, the film falls slightly below expectations.
If you're looking for a sweet and easy film that even the youngest member of your tribe will enjoy, this is a safe bet. But if you're expecting a Seinfeld-like laughfest with out-of-this-world animation and a catchy soundtrack, it's not quite that buzzworthy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what made kids want to see this movie -- the story or all the ads and product tie-ins. Was it "buzzworthy" of all the marketing hype? What parts of the movie are intended to appeal to kids, and which ones are meant for adults? How can you tell? Families can also discuss why the bees, particularly Barry, wanted their honey returned. Kids: What were the consequences of this? What did you learn about bees and nature? Does honey seem more important now than before you saw the film?
- In theaters: November 1, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: March 10, 2008
- Cast: Jerry Seinfeld, Matthew Broderick, Renee Zellweger
- Directors: Simon J. Smith, Steve Hickner
- Studio: DreamWorks
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Bugs, Friendship
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild suggestive humor, and a brief depiction of smoking.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.