Friday, November 09, 2007

BEE MOVIE: Mainly A Seinfeld Movie

BEE MOVIE (animated comedy)

Voices: Jerry Seinfeld, Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick and Chris Rock
Directors: Steve Hickner and Simon J. Smith
Time: 90 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? Those who have watched 'The Seinfeld Show' on TV would recognise its familiar gags and style - after all, this movie was the brainchild of Jerry Seinfeld. He came up with the idea and the title - and tossed it to producer Steven Spielberg who took a liking to it. However, “Bee Movie” ends up ‘beeing’ too much of a Seinfeld Movie – with all his trademark jokes and buzzwords.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Seinfeld plays the lead character, Barry B. Benson, a young bee who has just graduated from hive school and is instantly thrust into a lifetime of labour, making honey or taking care of the hive. Stuck in a conformist and workaholic society, Barry is shocked to learn that he will not get any vacation or free time. To a rebel like Barry, this system sucks. He sneaks into a squad of pollinators, flies out of the hive, wanders through New York's Central Park, and ends up being rescued by a human florist named Vanessa (voice of Renee Zellweger).

Vanessa is startled by Barry's ability to speak English - and the two of them strike up a weird but beautiful friendship. However, their relationship is rendered taboo because, according to apian law, bees are not supposed to communicate with humans. Nevertheless, Barry is in love with the pretty florist and would not be bound by any law of Nature or logic. When Barry accompanies Vanessa to a supermarket and discovers that humans are stealing honey from bees, he decides on a very un-beelike action: he files a lawsuit against humans for theft.

HITS & MISSES: Yes, you can imagine this sort of situation in Seinfeld's stand-up routines, like, "what if the bees sue us for theft of their honey?" but in the outrageous world of family cartoons, this gag is blasé. To the kids in the audience, the trial is just ‘much abuzz about nothing’ and the third act almost goes splat! – like an insect caught on the windscreen of a speeding car.

The first half of the movie is promising, though. With so much more interplay of characters, it is visually exciting and exhilarating. One of the most funny characters here is Mooseblood the mosquito (Chris Rock) but the role turns out to be only a ‘cameo’ and it is all Seinfeld the comedian in the second half. Inside jokes concerning Sting (the singer who borrows his name from the bees) and Ray Liotta (the actor promoting jars of honey) are not going to get the laugh-out-loud reactions from viewers. Neither are the references to the Jewish gags – as in Barry’s mom asking “Is she beeish” (about Barry’s ‘girlfriend’) and getting the comforting reply, “She’s not a wasp”.

Also the screenwriters make such a big deal that, according to the law of aerodynamics, bees are not supposed to fly – while forgetting that bees have six legs and not four as depicted in the movie.

THE LOWDOWN: There are enjoyable moments in “Bee Movie”. It is just that the film-makers have squandered its potential for more by concentrating too much of Seinfeld gags. There should have been a cross-pollination of comedy ideas!


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