Wrapping up our first free-for-all of 2018 is a first for our Blog Collab: a dive into the world of animation! Will we immediately regret stepping outside of our usual sharks, demons, and killer mermaid territory? I mean, probably.
Jerry Seinfeld made a children’s movie with a vaguely environmental message as an excuse to write a lot of cringeworthy bee puns.
This should come with a warning label for the number of bee puns that are likely to induce physical pain. I was ok with the first few, but slight amusement and eyerolls quickly transformed into resentment that made a movie less than 90 minutes long feel endless at times.
If you aren’t dissuaded, let’s continue.
Barry is a young worker bee who has just graduated from the equivalent of bee university and is now facing the prospect of choosing a career. Or, rather, a mindless repetitive task he’ll complete every day until he dies. This really begs the question of why bees even need to attend university and what they’ve even been studying if they have no idea what they’ll do for their short lives (AND other bees later reveal there are certain roles bees are bred to perform)…but, if like me, you think about this one too hard, your brain will implode.
Because the survival of the hive seems to be rather terribly planned out, the graduates have just one chance to pick the job they’ll do for the rest of their lives. Unable to decide, Barry jumps at the opportunity to go out gathering nectar with the pollen jocks. The pollen jocks are an oddly militaristic group of bees with nectar guns and a cartoon stereotype of a general as their leader. Can I point out that the queen would really be their leader, and I can’t remember anyone mentioning the queen even once?!?!? Does no one else find that bizarre?
To move on to the actual plot of the film (I’ll do my best not to analyze every single logical misstep in this movie from here on out), Barry manages to survive an unlikely number of obstacles when he is separated from the group. While dodging rain drops, Barry finds shelter in an apartment belonging to Vanessa, a florist. After she saves him from meeting the business end of a shoe, Barry decides he must thank her even though talking to a human is strictly against bee law (can I just point out that 1. this film spends more time on that over the fact that bees in the US magically speak English despite never talking to humans and 2. the highly important rule against talking to humans becomes nothing more than a vague recommendation after this moment).
Upon meeting Vanessa, Barry instantly falls in love with her (what) and she seems to reciprocate? Or at least their relationship is significant enough that Vanessa eventually breaks off her engagement. FOR REAL.
Now that Barry gives zero fucks about humans learning bees can talk, he and Vanessa spend their days together out and about in New York City (btw, Vanessa can somehow afford an apartment mere blocks from Central Park). When the two visit a grocery store and Barry sees the amount of honey harvested from bees, he uncovers the truth that humans have been stealing from bees for centuries. Determined to right this wrong, Barry decides to sue humanity–representing himself because who the fuck would represent a bee in court.
In a not-so-shocking turn of events, Barry wins the case. Bees now own all of the honey they produce, begging the question of what bees would even do with money. And there’s still half an hour left(???). After the bees no longer have to work hard to make honey, they stop pollinating flowers and everything dies. How can Barry possibly restore the balance again? Will it somehow involve an unlikely scenario in which he has to land a fucking plane?
Yes. Yes, it will.
2/5 Pink Panther Heads
I tried so hard to remember this is a children’s movie and is going to rely on imagination over logic in its storytelling, but the logical leaps are really difficult to overcome. The message about bees contributing to the hive by completing boring, meaningless work until they die seems rather dystopian for a children’s movie. At one point, a bee even points out how every job matters, no matter how small, which would have been a much better message if this film were going to choose one. I don’t know what this movie was trying to say. Yield to the inevitable, perhaps?
It’s also really difficult to believe that an adult human woman would put her entire life on hold to help a bee win a court case–a bee she may or may not be in love with. And, honestly, what is the lifespan of a bee? Spoiler: Vanessa and Barry are in business together by the end of the film. How long is that going to last and will it really all have been worth it??? Am I giving this film way more credit than it deserves as a philosophical reflection?
All of this I would consider overlooking if it weren’t for the fucking bee puns. The bee puns, OH GOD, THE BEE PUNS. I’ll give you just one terrible pun so you can feel my pain: Sting testifies at the trial. I could’ve forgiven this film for a lot, but I can’t fucking forgive that.
Overall, the plot is horrifically nonsensical, there’s no identifiable message, and I really don’t understand who the target audience for most of the humor was. I’m bumping the rating up slightly as I am proud that we’ve gained admission to the exclusive(?) Bee Movie club, but I’m ready to return my membership card.