The Pollinators

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
The Pollinators Movie Poster Image
Bee docu offers serious info, but delivery lacks sting.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 92 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Demonstrates the surprising way crops are pollinated. Alerts viewers to the causes behind the high death rate of the essential bee population, with suggested solutions. Promotes curiosity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Beekeepers, farmers, experts featured are committed to saving bee population. Female beekeepers are included as experts and seen at work in background. But minority representation is almost nonexistent, other than a Black entomologist who's positively portrayed. 

Violence

Discussions of how the bee population is dying -- and images of piles of dead bees -- may be upsetting.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Pollinators is an informative but dry environmental documentary that explores how bees are essential to the food supply -- and how they're dying at a rapid rate. It explains that the same bees pollinate many of the United States' crops because beekeepers transport them to different areas at different seasons. Viewers also learn more about how and why bees are dying (there are images of piles of dead bees) and how federal regulatory agencies aren't stepping up to save the day. The film does offer solutions, so it's not all downbeat. It also promotes curiosity. There's no iffy content and the information is valid, but the technical and scientific jargon may lose a lot of viewers, and there's not a lot of "pop" on-screen.

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What's the story?

Every year, billions of honeybees have an unusual migration. THE POLLINATORS travel by tractor-trailer across the United States, pollinating crops through the seasons to keep America's food supply robust. But hives are dying at a shocking rate for many reasons, mostly human-made.

Is it any good?

The Pollinators is chock-full of crucial, insightful information, but watching it feels like work. This is just the kind of documentary that environmental science students will struggle to stay awake for in class. As much as the interviewed farmers, experts, and beekeepers try to speak naturally, many viewers will find it difficult not to tune out words like "neonicotinoids," "Varroa mites," and "monocultures" pretty quickly. Yes, people will be interested in hearing what the film has to say, but you have to want to hear it. 

This is Peter Nelson's first feature documentary as a director, but he's been a cinematographer for the last 30 years, and it shows. Farms become works of art, and the close-ups of bees are so beautiful that they're practically insect glamour shots. Still, most kids aren't likely to appreciate seeing every droplet of spray shooting against a sunrise. The film has buzz -- you might say it swarms with vital information -- but it drones on and on.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of bees. What did you know about the role they played in nature before watching The Pollinators?

  • What message do you think the filmmakers want viewers to take away from watching the film?

  • Do you think it's OK for documentary films to have an opinion, or should they just "report the facts"?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love learning how to improve the planet

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