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There seems to be a new animated movie released every year that features talking animals or insects of some kind. It all started with A Bug’s Life and ANTZ. Later, there was Shrek and Finding Nemo. More recently there has been Madagascar, Over the Hedge, and Ratatouille. Every movie that gets released tries to be unique and stand out above the crowd. Bee Movie is one of the latest entries into this genre of film. What was supposed to put Bee Movie above every other animated talking animal film was the involvement of Jerry Seinfeld. This was his first major project since his hit show, Seinfeld, went off the air.
Bee Movie follows Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld). Barry and his fellow bee Adam (Matthew Broderick) are about to graduate to worker status in their colony. The choices are many and Barry dreams about all of the different things he wants to do. Unfortunately, Barry discovers that each worker gets to pick one job and must work at that job for the rest of his life. Barry decides to try out as a “pollen jock”, hoping this job will allow him to leave the colony and see the outside world he wonders so much about. While on the outside Barry breaks the number one bee rule by talking to a human, who happens to be an attractive florist named Vanessa (Renee Zellweger). Tagging along on a trip to the market, Barry is shocked to see the hundreds of jars of honey on the shelves. He and his fellow bees are not aware of the honey farms that churn out honey for human consumption. Outraged by this, Barry enlists Vanessa to help in righting this wrong.
The voice cast is quite large and impressive. There are some strong supporting parts by John Goodman’s character and Matthew Broderick’s character. Barry the Bee is really Jerry Seinfeld himself. So if you don’t like Seinfeld, you might not like this movie. He is the main star and is featured throughout the film. One misleading role is the part played by Chris Rock. He is a mosquito named Mooseblood. The trailers and previews often lead you to believe that Mooseblood is an active sidekick to Barry B. Benson. That’s not the case at all. Mooseblood is only in 5 minutes of the film. That’s disappointing as Mooseblood is a funny character and should have been given more screen time. Blame that on hundreds of rewrites that took place for this film.
The premise of this film borders on being absurd and unbelievable. Of course, talking animals are not that believable to begin with. However, Bee Movie takes things one step further. At the center of this story is a romance between a bee and a human. The audience is supposed to suspend disbelief and go along with the fact that a human/bee relationship is completely natural and believable. That’s a stretch, even for a animated film like this. Besides that, though, the main storyline here starts off well with Barry having an identity crisis of some sort. But soon the movie shifts into a environmentally aware film when Barry the Bee decides to sue the human race after finding out that humans have gained from all the hard work of his fellow bees. The message gets pounded over and over again toward the end, and this really drags the film down.
But again this is supposed to be a family film. Although, it’s not clear what audience Seinfeld was trying to target here first. It would appear that only adults would get most of main jokes, but at the same time there is plenty of kid humor to be found throughout. Perhaps Seinfeld and his writing team realized they needed to add more humor to mask the disjointed plot that most adults will notice. Overall there are some funny gags here, but nothing that you haven’t seen before in some form in previous animated films.
In the end, Bee Movie will appeal mainly to small children. However, there is really not enough action to keep them interested for the entire thing. Bee Movie begins to drag along slowly during the second half, and there really is not enough good jokes to keep things running smoothly. That being said, the animation is fantastic. But unfortunately that doesn’t prevent Bee Movie from being just another average CGI-animated family film featuring talking animals.
The video is presented in 1080p/VC-1 at the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen color ratio, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs of course. The video is pretty much flawless. The animation keeps improving on every new DreamWorks animated film and Bee Movie is one of the best looking animated movies thus far. The colors are vivid and the picture is sharp throughout. If the standard edition was almost perfect, this edition has to be perfect.
The audio included is available in either English TrueHD 5.1 Surround sound, French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, or Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear, so no major problems at all. In fact, you can’t get much better than this.
The Animators’ Corner: Picture-in-Picture Storyboards –
Barry’s Trivia Track –
This is a subtitle trivia track that runs the entire film. It highlights a lot of interesting information, so you should check this out for sure.
The World of Bees –
Another feature that runs the entire movie. It provides fun facts about the voice actors among other things.
Customizable Character Menus –
Build A Bee Avatar –
Found on Special Standard Edition As Well…
Audio Commentary –
Jerry Seinfeld and various other filmmakers provide a full-length audio commentary. During some parts of it, there seem to be too many people talking at once. But for the most part this commentary is fairly informative and often times entertaining. That’s all you really need here.
“The Buzz About Bees” Featurette –
This is an informative 7 minute featurette on bees. Everything you wanted to know about bees is here, which is a nice addition.
“Meet Barry B. Benson” Featurette –
This is an interactive feature. You ask Barry 11 questions and he answers them for you. Questions like “do you travel much?” and “what’s with the sweater?” are included along with more general questions about things you see in the movie. Nothing too in-depth here, though, as most of the answers use actual footage from the film.
“Tech of Bee Movie” Featurette –
This featurette runs 7 minutes and it’s all about the animation and how the film was made in general. The usual stuff.
“The Cast of Bee Movie” Featurette –
This featurette runs 14 minutes and it’s all about the voice cast of the film. We see various “behind-the-scenes” footage of the cast in action as they voice their respective roles in the film. Members of the voice cast and the crew also discuss the different characters in the movie.
“Jerry’s Flight Over Cannes” Featurette –
This is a short three minute featurette on Jerry, dressed as a giant bee, walking around the Cannes Film Festival as the movie premiered there.
Lost Scenes –
There are only three deleted scenes here and they total five minutes. These never got animated, so it is interesting to see the storyboards for the scene in action. Jerry Seinfeld also tells you why each scene was cut from the movie.
Alternate Endings –
There are six alternate endings here that total 15 minutes. Jerry again tells you what’s going on in these endings that didn’t make the final cut of the movie. Again fairly interesting to see.
Jerry’s TV Juniors –
All 16 of Jerry Seinfeld’s “TV Juniors” are here. They total around 20 minutes. They are short, live action promo pieces basically. But these are mostly funny, so check them out for sure.
“The Ow-Meter” Interactive Feature –
Another interactive feature on the dangers of being stung or doing the stinging for humans and bees.
“That’s Un-Bee-Lievable” Interactive Game –
An interactive trivia game about bees.
“Be a Bee” Interactive Game –
An interactive quiz that will pick your “bee job” at the end based on your answers.
“Pollination Practice” Interactive Game –
You practice shooting your pollen at flowers in this game.
DreamWorks Video Junkebox –
This seems to be on every DreamWorks movie released these day. It’s basically a tool to sell all of three Shrek films along with Flushed Away, Over the Hedge, Shark Tale, and Madagascar.
“We Got The Bee” Music Video –
This is a spoof on that song “We Got The Beat”. It’s just your typical funny music video spoof to promote the movie more.
Live Action Trailers –
These two trailers are actually quite funny. Probably because they don’t contain any actual footage from the movie. They include Jerry and friends dressed as bees and other insects as they attempt to recreate scenes from the movie. A live-action movie would have actually been funnier.
This is Jerry Seinfeld’s first major project in 10 years. But maybe Seinfeld should have spent less time thinking about this movie. As a result, Bee Movie has a disjointed plot that is not that funny throughout. Adults and older kids will be bored with this after one viewing. Younger kids might like it, but there are better animated films out featuring talking animals like Shrek and Findind Nemo. I can only recommend a rental here unless you are a HARDCORE Jerry Seinfeld fan.
As for the difference between this edition and the standard special edition, there really isn’t that much. There are some good trivia tracks that run alongside the full-length feature, and some other things to entertain the kids with, but the audio and video are only slightly better than the standard special edition of Bee Movie. So if you want to save $5 or $10, just get the two-disc standard special edition of this film, and you won’t miss much from the Blu-ray version.
Dreamworks Animated presents Bee Movie. Directed by Steve Hickner and Simon J. Smith. Written by: Spike Feresten, Barry Marden, and Andy Robin. Starring Jerry Seinfeld, Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, John Goodman, and Chris Rock. Running time: 90 minutes. Rated: PG. Released on DVD: June 3, 2008. Available at Amazon.com