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Bee Movie

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Bee Movie
Bee movie ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Written by
Produced by
  • Jerry Seinfeld
  • Christina Steinberg
  • Cameron Stevning
Starring
Narrated byJim Cummings
Edited byNick Fletcher
Music byRupert Gregson-Williams
Production
companies
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • October 25, 2007 (2007-10-25) (New York City)
  • November 2, 2007 (2007-11-02) (United States)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$150 million
Box office$293.5 million

Bee Movie is a 2007 American computer-animated comedy film directed by Simon J. Smith and Steve Hickner, and written by Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Robin, Barry Marder, and Spike Feresten. It stars the voices of Seinfeld, Renée Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton, and Chris Rock. The film centers on a honey bee Barry B. Benson (Seinfeld) trying to sue the human race for exploiting bees, after learning from his florist friend Vanessa Bloome (Zellweger) that humans sell and consume honey.

Bee Movie debuted at New York City on October 25, 2007, and was released in theaters in the United States on November 2. Critics praised its humor and voice cast, but criticized its plot. The film was a moderate box office success, grossing $293 million worldwide against a $150 million budget.

Plot

Barry B. Benson, an idealistic honey bee who has the ability to talk to humans, has recently graduated from college and is about to enter the hive's Honex Industries honey-making workforce with his best friend Adam Flayman. Barry is initially excited to join the workforce, but his ambitious, insubordinate attitude emerges upon discovering that his choice of job will never change once picked. Later, the two bees run into a group of Pollen Jocks, bees who collect pollen from flowers outside the hive, and they offer to take Barry with them if he is "bee enough". While on his first pollen-gathering expedition in New York City, Barry gets lost in the rain, and ends up on the balcony of a human florist named Vanessa Bloome. Upon noticing Barry, Vanessa's boyfriend Ken attempts to squash him, but Vanessa gently catches and releases Barry outside the window, saving his life.

Barry later returns to express his gratitude to Vanessa, breaking the sacred rule that bees are not to communicate with humans. Barry and Vanessa develop a close friendship, bordering on attraction, and spend time together. When he and Vanessa are in the grocery store, Barry discovers that the humans have been stealing and eating the bees' honey for centuries. He decides to journey to Honey Farms, which supplies the grocery store with its honey. Incredulous at the poor treatment of the bees in the hive, including the use of bee smokers to incapacitate the colony, Barry decides to sue the human race to put an end to exploitation of the bees.

Barry's mission attracts wide attention from bees and humans alike, and hundreds of people show up to watch the trial. Although Barry is up against tough defense attorney Layton T. Montgomery, the trial's first day goes well. That evening, Barry is having dinner with Vanessa when Ken shows up. Vanessa leaves the room, and Ken expresses to Barry that he hates the pair spending time together. When Barry leaves to use the restroom, Ken ambushes Barry and attempts to kill him, only for Vanessa to intervene and break up with Ken. The second day at the trial, Montgomery unleashes an unrepentant character assassination against the bees leading a deeply offended Adam to sting him. Montgomery immediately exaggerates the stinging to make himself seem the victim of an assault while simultaneously tarnishing Adam. Adam's actions jeopardize the bees' credibility and put his life in danger, though he recovers. The third day, Barry wins the trial by exposing the jury to the torturous treatment of bees, particularly use of the smoker, and prevents humans from stealing honey from bees ever again. Having lost the trial, Montgomery cryptically warns Barry that a negative shift of nature is imminent.

As it turns out, Honex Industries stops honey production and puts every bee out of a job, including the vitally important Pollen Jocks, resulting in all the world's flowers beginning to die out without any pollination. Before long, the last remaining flowers on Earth are being stockpiled in Pasadena, California, intent for the last Tournament of Roses Parade. Barry and Vanessa travel to the parade and steal a float, which they load into a plane. They hope to bring the flowers to the bees so they can re-pollinate the world's last remaining flowers. When the plane's pilot and co-pilot are unconscious, Vanessa is forced to land the plane, with help from Barry and the bees from Barry's hive.

Barry becomes a member of the Pollen Jocks, and they fly off to a flower patch. Armed with the pollen of the last flowers, Barry and the Pollen Jocks reverse the damage and save the world's flowers, restarting the bees' honey production. Later on, Barry runs a law firm at Vanessa's flower shop titled "Insects at Law", which handles disputes between animals and humans. While selling flowers to customers, Vanessa offers certain brands of honey that are "bee-approved".

Voice cast

Production

The development of Bee Movie began when Steven Spielberg approached DreamWorks Animation CEO and co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg after Jerry Seinfeld asked him to make an animated film featuring insects. Seinfeld spent a week in Los Angeles working on it.[1] Bee Movie costed $150 million to produce.[2]

Release

Context

Bee Movie debuted in New York City on October 25, 2007,[3] followed by a premiere on October 28, in Los Angeles.[4] The film was released in the United States on November 2.[5] Produced by DreamWorks Animation and Columbus 81 Productions, and distributed by Paramount Pictures,[6][7] Bee Movie had a runtime of 91 minutes.[2]

Video game

Bee Movie Game was released in October 2007 for multiple platforms.[8]

Home media

Paramount Home Entertainment released Bee Movie on DVD (single- and double-disc) on March 11, 2008,[9] and on Blu-ray in May.[10] The DVD extras include the "Inside the Hive: The Cast of Bee Movie" and "Tech of Bee Movie" featurettes, "We Got the Bee" music video, "Meet Barry B. Benson" feature, interactive games, a filmmaker commentary, alternate endings, lost scenes, the live-action trailers, and Jerry's Flight Over Cannes.[9][11] An HD DVD version of the film was canceled after the discontinuation of that format.[12]

Reception

Box office

Bee Movie earned $126.6 million in the United States and Canada and $166.9 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $293.5 million.[2] Following the income from worldwide box office, home media, and pay television, the film ultimately turned a small profit for the studio.[13][14]

Released alongside American Gangster and Martian Child on November 2, 2007,[2][15] Bee Movie made $10.2 million on its first day. It went on to take second place at the opening weekend with $39.1 million from 3,928 theaters.[16] Its second weekend saw the box office drop by 32% to $26 million,[17][18] and Bee Movie grossed another $14.3 million the following weekend.[19] Bee Movie completed its theatrical run in the United States and Canada on February 14, 2008.[20]

Critical reception

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Bee Movie holds an approval rating of 49% based on 174 reviews, with an average rating of 5.6/10. Its critical consensus reads, "Bee Movie has humorous moments, but its awkward premise and tame delivery render it mostly forgettable."[21] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned Bee Movie a score of 54 out of 100 based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[22] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[23]

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."[24] 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."[25] 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."[26]

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."[27] 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."[25] 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."[28] Richard Roeper gave the film a positive review, saying "This is a beautifully animated, cleverly executed, warm and funny adventure."[25]

RogerEbert.com's Roger Ebert 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 it off, she could."[29] 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."[30]

Accolades

Bee Movie led the 35th Annie Awards season with five nominations (including Best Animated Feature).[31] At the 65th Golden Globe Awards, it was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film.[32][33] The 13th Critics' Choice Awards nominated the film for Best Animated Feature.[34][35]

Lawsuits

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 were 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.[36]

Beeceuticals vs. DreamWorks

A Florida-based cosmetics company called Beeceuticals filed a lawsuit over the use of their trademarked phrase "Give Bees a Chance".[37][38] The suit between the parties was settled out of court.[39]

Internet popularity

Several years after the film's release, Bee Movie had an unexpected rise in popularity as an Internet meme. In 2015, posts of the entire film screenplay spread across Facebook.[40][41] In November 2016 YouTube user "Avoid at All Costs" uploaded a video where the entire film sped up every time the word "bee" was used. The video, titled The entire bee movie but every time they say bee it gets faster, has gathered over 17 million views as of May 2017.[42][43] The popularity of this video spawned several variants where the movie or trailer is edited in unusual ways.[44] Vanity Fair would later characterize the film's late popularity as "totally bizarre."[45]

There have been some attempts to explain the phenomenon: Jason Richards, whom Vanity Fair identified as one of the larger promoters of the meme via his @Seinfeld2000 Twitter handle has noted the "off-brand Pixar quality" as a possible reason,[45] while Barry Marder, one of the film's script writers, identified "that odd relationship between an insect and a human woman," as the possible cause.[46] Inverse meanwhile writes that the film's internet popularity "was a reaction not just to the movie itself but to the realization among millennials that they’d been shown a truly odd movie as children and thought nothing of it."[47]

Writing for New York magazine, Paris Martineau identified the meme as starting on Tumblr circa 2011 at which point users would, apparently in earnest, post the opening quotation identifying it as inspiring.[48] By December 2012, however, these posts became so ubiquitous that it would inspire parodies.[48] It has also been suggested that the spread of videos such as The entire bee movie but every time they say bee it gets faster was inspired by the preceding popularity of the "We Are Number One" meme videos, many of which used a similar title format of "We Are Number One but...".[44]

Seinfeld said that he has no interest to make a sequel to Bee Movie in the wake of its online popularity.[49]

References

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External links