Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Simon J. Smith
|Produced by||Jerry Seinfeld
|Written by||Jerry Seinfeld
|Narrated by||Jim Cummings|
|Music by||Rupert Gregson-Williams|
|Editing by||Nick Fletcher|
Columbus 18 Productions
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||91 minutes|
Bee Movie is the first motion-picture script to be written by Seinfeld, who co-wrote it with Spike Feresten, Barry Marder, and Andy Robin. The film was directed by Simon J.Smith and Steve Hickner and produced by Seinfeld, Christina Steinberg and Cameron Stevning. The production was designed by Alex McDowell, and Christophe Lautrette was the art director. Nick Fletcher was the supervising editor and music for the film was composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams.
The cast and crew include some veterans of Seinfeld's long-running NBC sitcom Seinfeld, including writer/producers Feresten and Robin, and actors Michael Richards (Seinfeld character Cosmo Kramer), Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld character David Puddy), and Larry Miller (who plays the title character on the Seinfeld episode "The Doorman"). Coincidentally, NBC was host to the broadcast television premiere of the film on November 27, 2010.
Barry B. Benson (voiced by Jerry Seinfeld) is "just an ordinary bee" in a hive in Sheep Meadow, Central Park in New York City. Barry recently graduated from college and is about to enter the hive's Honex Industries (a division of Honesco Corporation and owned by the Hexagon Group) honey-making workforce. With his best friend Adam Flayman (voiced by Matthew Broderick), Barry is initially very excited, but his latent, non-conformist attitude emerges upon finding out that his choice of job will never change once picked. This prompts Barry to leave the hive and see the world on a daily run with the macho, elite "Pollen Jocks", though Adam tries to talk Barry out of it. He thoroughly enjoys his new freedom, and is impressed by the process of nectar collection and pollination, but after being stuck to a tennis ball during a game and flying through a panicking family's car he decides humans are crazy and that he should go home. Unfortunately, it begins to rain and he crash lands on a windowsill. The apartment's occupants, the same couple who hit Barry with the tennis ball, have just come home and they close the window before Barry can escape. After freaking out the people inside and nearly being squashed, he is rescued by a florist named Vanessa Bloome (voiced by Renée Zellweger) and gently put back outside. This unexpected act of kindness intrigues Barry, who goes back in to thank the woman even though doing so violates Bee Law #1, "Don't talk to humans". Against both of their expectations, they develop an instant bond, bordering on attraction, and start hanging out together frequently. Of course, all of their friends and family are upset by this relationship.
While they are going through a grocery store, Barry is shocked to discover that the humans have been stealing and eating the bees' honey for centuries and decides to journey to Honey Farms, which supplies the grocery store with its honey. On the Honey Farms truck, he meets a mosquito named Mooseblood (voiced by Chris Rock). A windshield wiper flings the two in a tube and Barry tells Mooseblood about Honey Farms while Mooseblood tells him about how humans have always swatted mosquitoes. Mooseblood departs when he sees a Blood Mobile pass by, while Barry goes on to witness the artificial process by which the honey is gathered. He ultimately realizes that his true calling in life is to set the world right by suing the human race for stealing their precious honey. This is later shown on Hive at Five's especially on Bee Larry King starring a bee version of Larry King (in a cameo appearance). The trial initially goes well, until the main defense lawyer, Layton Montgomery (voiced by John Goodman), accuses Barry of several things which are insulting to the bees (having a pet-like relationship with Vanessa, being an illegitimate son, since all bees are sons of the queen bee, and having incestuous flirtings with the female bees, since all bees are siblings) to show the less-lovable side of bees. This goads Adam to sting him, endangering his life. Barry counters by producing the smoke-machine used by Honey Farms to drug and subdue their bees. Adam is sent to the hospital, and is hooked to honey through I.V. His stinger is replaced with a pirate sword toothpick, and it turns out he is going to be fine.
Barry wins the lawsuit, and all honey in the world is confiscated and returned to the bees. However, Montgomery warns them they are disrupting nature's balance meaning that the bees quit their jobs. Adam comments to Vanessa that it might be true since bees had been living their previous lives over 27 million years. However it is too late, as Barry and Vanessa realize that the others were right. The sudden, massive stockpile of honey has put every bee out of a job, including the vitally important Pollen Jocks. Without bees pollinating the flowers, all plant life begins dying with the entire food chain close behind. To set things right, he and Vanessa find a way to save all the flowers by going to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California and bringing back with them all the pollen-filled flowers to re-pollinate the world. Barry and Vanessa fly the flowers as luggage on a flight from Los Angeles International Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport. The flight begins to take a detour due to lightning, and the delay would be fatal to the flowers. Trying to intervene, Barry accidentally knocks out the terrified pilots. Vanessa joins him and tries unsuccessfully to fly the plane. In the meantime, millions of bees have rallied and arrive at the last minute to help them safely land.
Armed with the pollen of the last flowers, Barry and the Pollen Jocks manage to reverse the damage and save the world's flowers, restarting the bees' beloved honey production. Nothing is mentioned about the fate of companies like Honey Farms, though humans and bees are seen treating each other visibly better, and honey is supposed to be "bee approved". Barry becomes a member of the Pollen Jocks while Adam is working as a krelman, helping to pollinate the plants while running a law firm inside Vanessa's flower shop, as well as helping Vanessa, switching the name from "Vanessa's Flowers" to "Vanessa & co: Flowers, Honey, Music, and Legal Advice". As the film closes, his office door reads "Insects at Law". Mooseblood works in his office with him as a lawyer (stating that he is already a bloodsucking parasite and only needed a briefcase), which is shown when Barry is interviewing a cow about the human exploitation of her milk.
- Jerry Seinfeld as Barry B. Benson
- Renée Zellweger as Vanessa Bloome
- Matthew Broderick as Adam Flayman
- Chris Rock as Mooseblood the Mosquito
- Patrick Warburton as Ken
- Kathy Bates as Janet B. Benson
- Barry Levinson as Martin B. Benson
- John Goodman as Layton T. Montgomery
- Megan Mullally as Trudy, Honex Tour Guide
- Rip Torn as Lou Lo Duca and the Pollen Jocks General
- Oprah Winfrey as Judge Bumbleton
- Michael Richards as Bud Ditchwater
- Larry King as Bee Larry King
- Larry Miller as Dean Buzzwell
- Jim Cummings as Title Narrator and Graduation Announcer
- Brian Hopkins as Sandy Shrimpkin and TSA Agent
- John DiMaggio as Bailiff, Janitor
- Tress MacNeille as Jeanette Chung, Mother, Cow
- Simon J. Smith as Truck Driver and Chet
- Robert Jayne as Bee (uncredited)
- Ray Liotta as Himself
- Sting as Himself
- Carl Kasell as Himself (uncredited)
Megan Mullally originally voiced the Queen of the Hive and had even recorded her lines; but this character was cut from the film. Seinfeld still wanted her to have a part in the movie, so he gave her the role of the Honex Tour Guide. At one point, Uma Thurman, Rebecca Soler, Lisa Kudrow, David Letterman, and Raven-Symoné were all attached to the film, but they dropped out for various reasons.
|Film score by Rupert Gregson-Williams|
|Released||October 30, 2007|
|Rupert Gregson-Williams film scores chronology|
All music composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams, except as noted.
|3.||"The Pollen Jocks"||1:32|
|4.||"Barry Flies Out"||5:34|
|6.||"Sugar, Sugar"||The Archies||2:46|
|7.||"Assault on Honey Farms"||2:33|
|9.||"Barry Turns the Screws"||3:12|
|10.||"Monty Slanders and Adam Stings"||2:12|
|11.||"Hearts, Flowers and Hive Closures"||2:34|
|12.||"Honey Round Up"||1:38|
|14.||"Land That Plane"||6:39|
|15.||"Here Comes the Sun"||Sheryl Crow||2:59|
|16.||"Thinkin' Bee" (iTunes bonus track)||Jerry Seinfeld & Matthew Broderick||0:57|
Two teaser trailers were released for the film that feature Seinfeld dressed in a bee costume, trying to shoot the film in live-action. Eddie Izzard portrays the direction agent, and Steven Spielberg suggests to Seinfeld in the second trailer to just do it as a cartoon. Upon the release of the first trailer, it was announced that three of the live-action teasers would be released in total. In the second trailer, Steven Spielberg is taking a picture of himself and an assistant director, referencing the camera gag Ellen DeGeneres pulled on him during the 79th Academy Awards. After Seinfeld fails to do scenes in live-action, Spielberg suggests Seinfeld that the film can just be made as a cartoon. One of the crew members announce that the film is a cartoon, having the crew leave the stage studio. The trailer finally shows the movie as an animated CGI feature. Also in the second trailer, the bear that jumps out at Barry is Vincent the Bear from Over the Hedge, another DreamWorks Animation SKG movie.
The third trailer was released with Shrek the Third, but this was an animated teaser. The fourth trailer was released on the Bee Movie official website, and revealed most of the film's plot. In addition, two weeks before the release, NBC aired 22 behind-the-scenes skits called "Bee Movie TV Juniors," all of which are staged and tongue-in-cheek in nature. The popular internet site Gaia Online featured a great deal of promotional material for the film.
Ten books were released for the film: Bee Movie: The Story Book, Bee Movie: The Honey Disaster, The Art of Bee Movie, Bee Movie: Deluxe Sound Storybook, Bee Movie (Ultimate Sticker Books), Bee Movie (I Can Find It), Bee Movie: The Junior Novel, Bee Movie: What’s the Buzz?, Bee Movie Mad Libs, and Bee Movie: Bee Meets Girl.
Bee Movie was released on DVD on March 11, 2008 in both fullscreen and widescreen formats and a 2-disc special edition DVD. The single-disc extras include Inside The Hive: The Cast of Bee Movie featurette, Tech of Bee Movie featurette, We Got The Bee music video, Meet Barry B. Benson feature, interactive games, and more. The special edition DVD extras will includes all that, along with a filmmaker commentary, alternate endings, lost scenes with commentary, the live action trailers, and Jerry's Flight Over Cannes. HD DVD version was cancelled after the demise of HD DVD. Paramount released the movie on Blu-ray Disc on May 20, 2008.
Bee Movie received mixed reviews from critics. The film holds a 51% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 169 reviews with an average rating of 5.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Bee Movie has humorous moments, but its awkward premise and tame delivery render it mostly forgettable." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 54 based on 34 reviews.
Kyle Smith of the New York Post gave the film three out of four stars, saying "After Shrek the Third's flatulence jokes, the return of that Seinfeldian wit brings animation up a level." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "It's on the easygoing level of Surf's Up, and a full tick up from, say, Over the Hedge or The Ant Bully. But given the Seinfeld pedigree it's something of a disappointment." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three out of four stars, saying "At its relaxed best, when it's about, well, nothing, the slyly comic Bee Movie is truly beguiling." Desson Thomson of The Washington Post said, "Bee Movie feels phoned in on every level. The images, usually computer animation's biggest draw, are disappointingly average. And as for the funny stuff, well, that's where you were supposed to come in." A.O. Scott of the New York Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "The most genuinely apian aspect of Bee Movie is that it spends a lot of its running time buzzing happily around, sniffing out fresh jokes wherever they may bloom." Claudia Puig gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "Bee Movie is certainly not low-budget, but it has all the staying power and creative value of a B-movie. The secret life of bees, as told by Seinfeld, is a bore with a capital B." Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film three stars out of four, saying "Bee Movie is not Shrek, and it is not Ratatouille either (by far the standout computer-animated feature of the year). But it has enough buzzing wit and eye-popping animation to win over the kids—and probably more than a few parents, too." Richard Roeper gave the film a positive review, saying "This is a beautifully animated, cleverly executed, warm and funny adventure."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two out of four stars, saying "All of this material, written by Seinfeld and writers associated with his television series, tries hard, but never really takes off. We learn at the outset of the movie that bees theoretically cannot fly. Unfortunately, in the movie, that applies only to the screenplay. It is really, really, really hard to care much about a platonic romantic relationship between Renee Zellweger and a bee, although if anyone could pull if off, she could." Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film three out of four stars, saying "The vibe is loose-limbed and fluky, and the gags have an extra snap that's recognizably Seinfeldian. If I believed in a sitcom afterlife, I'd swear the whole thing was cooked up by Kramer and George's dad." Jack Mathews of the New York Daily News gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Watching this pun-filled cartoon is like falling into a tray of children's watercolors—the warm end, where oranges and yellows and ambers wave." Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The movie has some pretty pictures and a few good jokes, but not nearly enough. And the story suffers from sitcom attention-deficit disorder, veering off in a new direction every half-hour or so." David Botti of Newsweek said, "What I like about Bee Movie is its comfy, off-the-cuff charm: unlike a lot of animated family entertainment, it's not all Thwack Smash Kaboom." Moira MacDonald of The Seattle Times gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Bee Movie doesn't touch the bar raised so high by Pixar, but it creates a little buzz of its own." Peter Howell of the Toronto Star gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Bee Movie is a cute movie. Not that there's anything ... well, you know the rest. But cute is not what adults expect from Jerry Seinfeld, although children will be delighted."
The film opened in second place to American Gangster, but its gross of $38,021,044 had it more in line with the studios' lowest-grossing features, such as Shark Tale. The film had an average of $9,679 from 3,928 theaters. In its second weekend, the film held well with a 33% drop to $25,565,462 and claiming the top spot, resulting in a $6,482 average from expanding to 3,944 theaters. Its widest release was 3,984 theaters, and closed on February 14, 2008 after 104 days of release, grossing $126,631,277 domestically along with an additional $160,963,300 overseas for a worldwide total of $287,594,577. Produced on a $150 million budget, the film was a moderate box office success worldwide, but was not successful in the United States and is DreamWorks Animation's third lowest-grossing computer-animated film to date. It was #3 in the UK Box office (behind Enchanted and The Golden Compass).
Awards and nominations
Beebylon vs. DreamWorks
Bee Movie is alleged to be similar to a concept developed in 2000 by a team of Swedish animation students, which they claim was presented to DreamWorks in 2001 under the name Beebylon. The animation students say DreamWorks rejected the idea, on the basis of it being "too childish." When Bee Movie was announced in 2003, the students claim they once again contacted DreamWorks to make sure the movie was not similar to their original concept, and was given a reassuring answer. When one of the members of the Beebylon team saw a trailer of the movie in 2007, he found it to be extremely similar and attempted to find a U.S. lawyer who could represent them. Jerry Seinfeld rejected the plagiarism claims during his PR tour for Bee Movie in Sweden. "I'm doing my best not to laugh and I'm taking it as serious as I can. But it's a little bit hard. It is entirely possible that somebody else came up with an idea about making a movie about bees. I knew nothing of this until this very morning and I hope they are not too upset."
Beeceuticals vs. DreamWorks
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- Official website archived from the original on July 9, 2012
- Bee Movie at the Big Cartoon DataBase
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- Bee Movie at Box Office Mojo
- Bee Movie at AllMovie