Saturday, November 03, 2007

Trapped in Seinfeld's nightmare

Jerry Seinfeld and Dreamworks have teamed up to deliver a real stink bomb. Bee Movie is a premise in search of a story. There are plenty of designers on hand but apparently no screenwriters.

The first ten minutes was actually rather enjoyable as the Bee World was rolled out. The animation looks good. The bees were represented in a mildly amusing, satiric, anthropomorphic way but at least a coherent picture was forming.

All logic flies out the window once the main character, Seinfeld's Barry B. Benson, leaves the hive. He flies around New York City and falls for a human woman. See, it turns out that bees could always speak English but were forbidden from doing so. Barry crosses the line to speak with humans, the story loses its way.

The interactions between the bees and humans are not funny or enjoyable. I am not sure who this movie is really aimed at. I laughed a grand total of four times in the movie and my 8-year-old was puzzled by most of the pop-culture references. How many kids know who Ray Liotta is? How many adults think it's funny that he shows up as an arrogant actor-honeymaker with an anger management problem?

Barry B. Benson finds out that humans are taking the bees' honey, and sues humans in a protracted court case. Barry's discovery of the humans' treatment of bees felt like a nightmarish tour through Seinfeld's id. It was truly weird, with some scary random violence (Barry's human girlfriend dies in a fiery glider crash in a "dream" sequence), and strange allusions that made me think of the Holocaust, 9/11 terrorism, slavery, and the downside of Native American Casinos. Barry argues his case, wins, and almost causes the end of the world. Oops.

Am I crazy, or is Seinfeld? Hopefully not me. I can report with confidence that as far as the movie goes, it is not funny, it has little heart, and the story arc makes no sense. I really felt like the people who came up with the bizarre plot either did not understand kids or did not like them. Seinfeld himself basically said that he thought of the idea of a movie called Bee Movie and immediately got a green light without really knowing how to fill out the story. It shows. Seinfeld is a talented comedian but this effort to make a family film did not translate in the least.

This movie will make a lot of money but don't let that suck you in. After Shrek the Third it was clear that Dreamworks was going downhill fast, and Bee Movie is Dreamworks's storytelling at its laziest.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Appreciate the permission to miss this movie. Have to say with all the Seinfeld family hype recently I'm not surprised it's a stinker. I do so dig your groove when you call out the caca on the carpet.

1:42 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

I have been very surprised by the positive reviews Bee Movie has received. I don't think too many reviewers were looking at it through a kid's eyes. Even a grown up I just didn't think it was funny. And I LOVE good kids' movies. My hubby and I saw the Pixar and Disney movies that came out even before we were parents.

I studied screenwriting a few years back and our professor said that kids' movies usually have the clearest storylines, and we should study them to learn how movies are structured. Bee Movie's story was a total mess after Barry started interacting with people.

Thanks for supporting my caca detecting abilites--yes, that is a lesson of motherhood!

1:48 PM  
Blogger RocketMom said...

After reading the online blurb, I wondered how a story about a bee falling in love and suing the human race would be interesting to my boys.
I thought it might be interesting to a somewhat older crowd, but I'll take your word for it and look for something else to watch.

8:07 PM  

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