You can’t have Jerry Seinfeld co-write, co-produce and co-star in a movie without getting a major payoff in laughs. But those eagerly waiting for the sight of Jerry on the big screen will still have to wait (or watch his excellent 2002 documentary Comedian). Bee Movie is animated, and it’s damn hard to make a bee look like Jerry — yellow and black were never his colors. Although Barry B. Benson, the bee voiced by our , has a sure antenna for comedy, he lacks the expressive deadpan that made Seinfeld a TV landmark. Given that, Bee Movie scores points by avoiding the hard sell and letting the humor grow out of the situation. The situation being that Barry and his bee pal Adam (Matthew Broderick) have just graduated — given the billions of bees seeking higher education, they’re the class of 9:15AM. Adam is ready for slave labor, making honey for the company store, Honex. But Barry has dreams beyond the hive. He wants to join the pollen jocks in the big wide world outside (that first visual of Manhattan is lovely). And join he does, getting thrashed around on a tennis ball (good scene) and taking a wild ride on a truck’s windshield (an even better scene) with a mosquito named Mooseblood (Chris Rock is a hoot). Barry almost gets it on with a human, Vanessa the florist (voiced by Renee Zellweger), unless I’m reading too much into the scene where his organ of sensation fondles her hand. The script by Seinfeld, Spike Feresten, Andy Robin, and Barry Marder, pays homage to The Graduate and other adult movies, all of which will fly over the heads of toddlers, especially when Barry goes to court against the gargantuan attorney Layton T. Montgomery (John Goodman) to sue the human race for exploiting the bee production of honey with no financial recompense. Directed by Simon J. Smith (Shrek 4-D) and Steve Hickner (The Prince of Egypt), the film crowds too much incident into the final stretch, including guest spots from Oprah, Sting and Ray Liotta. At its relaxed best, when it’s about, well, nothing, the slyly comic Bee Movie is truly beguiling.
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