Fresh out of college, Barry the Bee (Jerry Seinfeld) finds the prospect of working with honey uninspiring. When he flies outside the hive for the first time, Barry learns that humans have been stealing and eating honey for centuries, and he realizes that his true calling is to obtain justice for his kind by suing humanity for theft. A recent college graduate, Barry wants more out of life than the inevitable career that awaits him and every other worker in New Hive City – a job at Honex producing honey.
Barry jumps at the chance to venture out of the hive, and soon encounters a world beyond his wildest dreams. When Barry inadvertently meets a spirited Manhattan florist named Vanessa (Renée Zellweger), he breaks one of the cardinal rules of beedom – he talks to her. A friendship quickly develops, and Barry gets a crash course in the ways of the human race.
When he discovers that anyone can buy honey right off the grocery store shelf, he is shocked that people are stealing the bees’ unique creation and making money from it. Outraged, he decides to avenge this injustice by suing the human race. Bee Movie is Seinfeld’s first venture into feature animation, a labour of love for the acclaimed stand-up comedian, who not only voices the central character but also co-wrote the screenplay and serves as producer.
Joining Seinfeld and Zellweger is a voice cast that includes Matthew Broderick, Adam Flayman, Barry’s best friend and fellow classmate, who is content to live his life the Honex way; John Goodman brings the loquacious, powerful and morally challenged Southern attorney Layton T. Montgomery to life; Chris Rock is Mooseblood the mosquito, a colourful insect with a singular take on insect life, whom Barry meets on a windshield during his travels into the human world; Patrick Warburton plays Vanessa’s aggressive tennis partner and would-be boyfriend, Ken. There’s an adage in Hollywood that has become accepted as gospel – it’s who you know. The genesis of “Bee Movie” is proof positive of this maxim although, in this particular instance, it could be stretched to “It’s not only who you know, it’s who they know … you know?” Seinfeld, who makes $100m per annum from reruns of his old TV series across the world, says he had never thought of the right subject to mark his foray into animation; that is, until the day he was having dinner with Steven Spielberg and came up with the idea almost by accident.
Seinfeld was having dinner with Spielberg and at one point in the evening, there was an unexpected lull in the conversation, and to fill the silence Seinfeld nervously blurted out an extemporaneous idea about making a movie about bees, which he would call Bee Movie- a riff on the less-than flattering term for low-budget movies from Hollywood’s golden era. Spielberg was immediately taken with the idea. “And the next thing I knew, well, they had me doing it,” Seinfeld recalls. “But I really didn’t have an idea for the movie. All I had was the title. Luckily, it worked out.”
While the presence of Jerry Seinfeld attached to anything practically guarantees it success based on the public’s curiosity alone, don’t expect Bee Movie to have you rolling in the aisles. It’s really not that funny. The plot is animation standard – young bee is discontented and heads to the Big Apple in search of inspiration. There, he meets a florist and before you can say Soup Nazi, they’re suing the human race for honey theft. There are some good moments – like the courtroom scene with Sting and Ray Liotta doing a number on the Goodfellas theme. Also, Larry King gets a look in, plus the excellent Chris Rock and his take on bee sexuality – “Mosquito girls trade up. They try to get with a moth or a dragonfly. Mosquito girls don’t want to be with no mosquito!” Overall, Bee Movie will bring smiles all around over Christmas – the ideal family movie with plenty of laughs for all ages.