The Bumblebee Flies Anyway

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For the novel by Robert Cormier, see The Bumblebee Flies Anyway (novel)

The Bumblebee Flies Anyway
Directed byMartin Duffy
Produced bySteven Haft
Larry Meistrich
Written byJennifer Sarja (screenplay)
StarringElijah Wood
Rachael Leigh Cook
Distributed byTSG Pictures
Release date
  • 1999 (1999)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Bumblebee Flies Anyway is a 1999 film starring Elijah Wood, directed by Martin Duffy. It was based on the novel of the same name by Robert Cormier.


Barney Snow (Elijah Wood) wakes up in a hospital with no memory of why he is there. All he has is his name and some vague recollections of a car crash. He assumes that he is in the hospital for his amnesia and settles in to try to recover. He quickly realizes that all of the other residents of the youth clinic are all suffering from terminal illnesses.

Another patient, Mazzo (Joseph Perrino), asks Barney to play host for his visiting twin sister Cassie (Rachael Leigh Cook). Barney immediately falls for Cassie and strives to get better, if only to be able to see her in a setting outside the hospital. He is determined to learn about his past so that he can make her a part of his future.

In his explorations, both inside his shattered memories and through the physical rooms of the hospital, Barney starts to realize that there was no car crash. Doctor Harriman (Janeane Garofalo) induced amnesia in Barney to make him forget everything in his past. Barney demands to know why, and Harriman tells him he has cancer. The experimental procedure that Barney is undergoing is attempting to test the power of the mind in fighting cancer. Barney had volunteered for the treatment, hoping for a miracle cure.

The theory was that if Barney didn’t know he had cancer, the body might stop creating the cancer cells. The explanation Harriman gives comes from an old myth that, based on weight ratios to wing power and wind resistance, the bumblebees should be aerodynamically incapable of flight — yet the bumblebee doesn’t know that, so it flies anyway.

Torn between his hope for a cure and his desire to continue his budding relationship with Cassie, Barney is forced to choose whether to go through the amnesia procedure again or remain with the memories and knowledge he has thus far acquired.



  • Billy mentions calling a radio station to request an obscene song named "Lick My Love Pump". This refers to a song in the 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.
  • In the novel upon which the movie was based, Janeane Garofalo's character, "The Handyman", is a man.
  • The tag line of the novel was "Time and death fight the sweet sharpness of life, but dream a little and the human spirit will fly free and victorious."


  • Deauville Film Festival — Nominated Grand Special Prize (Martin Duffy)
  • Young Artist Award — Nominated Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young Actor (Elijah Wood)

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