Bee Movie (2007)

Rated: PG
Length: 90 Minutes
Grade: DB-DC=D
Budget: $150 million
Box Office: $127 million US, $160 million Int’l, $55 million DVD

Directed by: Steve Hickner, who previously did The Prince of Egypt, and Simon J. Smith, who made Shrek 4-D.
Starring: The voices of Jerry Seinfeld, Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, John Goodman, Chris Rock, Kathy Bates, Barry Levinson, Rip Torn, Patrick Warburton, Ray Liotta, Sting, Oprah Winfrey, Larry Miller, Michael Richards, and Larry King.

Barry the Bee is frustrated. He doesn’t want a life of monotonous work, but adventure. So, one day he goes out with the pollen gatherers, gets separated from them, befriends a human, discovers the evils of honey farming, and embarks on a crusade to end the barbarity and return the honey to the bees who own it.

Entertainment Value: D
Wow. Look at all those voices and all that production value and all that profit. So what. This is a movie about talking bees meeting humans, falling in love with one, and then suing the humans in court to get back honey from the evil bee farmers. A bee is equal to a human is the main idea here, and I could never get past either that point or the idea that any human wouldn’t just kill a bee on sight.

Superficial Content: B-
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sexuality C, Violence B, Language B, Illegality A
Okay, I know I’m going to sound like a nut for saying this, but wouldn’t a romance between a bee and a human still count as bee-stiality? I know, I know. But how can I not find that problematic? Also, there is talk of a suicide pact, many bug deaths, moderate language, sexual innuendo, and bugs shown being gassed and behaving as if drugged. In all honesty, my dislike for this movie is probably clouding my judgment here, but there you have it.

Significant Content: D
Bees and humans are equally valuable. Work is drudgery. It’s immoral to take honey from bees, since they work so hard to produce it, without giving them the profits. Evil corporate lawyers are also usually Bible-thumpers. On the other hand, I’ve got to admit that what seems like do-gooderism winds up almost destroying the whole planet, which certainly could be seen as a commentary on the dangers of environmentalism and the very sort of animal egalitarianism which I am penalizing this movie for. And, in the end, the movie also heavily criticizes the idea of bees living lives of leisure instead of work.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
The animation is spectacular, though it’s still Dreamworks and not Pixar. But given the premise and worldview issues, it’s hard to go above a C here, even though it has many clever lines and lots of “pay attention” gags.

Discussion Questions:
~Do you think this movie is promoting environmentalism and animal rights or satirizing the concept?
~Is it plausible that a bee and a human could ever become friends? Would anyone act so as to save a bee from being swatted?
~Why do bees exist?
~What does this movie have to say about American society and our pursuit of leisure? Is this movie advocating something like the Protestant work ethic?
~Can animals own things? What does the Bible say?
~Is there anything wrong with taking honey from bees? Milk from cows? Making meat?
~Do you think it could be dangerous for kids to watch a movie which portrays bees as our friends and killing them as wrong? Why?
Overall Grade: D
The comedy here is clearly Seinfeldesque, but the message is so wrong and the plot so dumb that I had a hard time really enjoying it.

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