The buzz about Bee Movie is that it’s a cute animated fable for children that also showcases popular comic Jerry Seinfeld, who developed the project with the writers from his titular sitcom. The sting in the tale is that, while vaguely palatable to both audiences, Bee Movie is a little too sweet for grown-ups, yet too bitter to charm kids. Seinfeld plays Barry B Benson, a worker bee who rejects the hive routine in favour of an excursion to Manhattan, where he discovers that, while bees do all the hard graft, mankind makes a wad of cash through selling their honey.
Providing a strange role model for children, Barry launches a successful lawsuit against Big Honey, but upsets the fragile balance of our eco-system in the process, forcing him to save the world in order to win the heart of florist Vanessa (Renée Zellweger). The film’s knowing strain of Jewish humour works well with this forbidden human/insect love story (‘She’s not a WASP’ Barry tells his pals in the hive), but the allegory about how society revolves around honey is lazily developed. Among an endless font of insect puns, there are self-deprecating cameos from Ray Liotta as a cruel honey farmer and from Sting as himself, and Seinfeld supplies enough deft one-liners to make Bee Movie a cut above the likes of A Shark Tale or Over The Hedge while never approaching the Pixar quality benchmark. An oddly conceived vehicle for a reluctant star, Bee Movie deserves a B-minus for effort.
Selected release, from Fri 14 Dec.