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Bee Movie
The "Seinfeld" curse continues.
Bee Movie
Jerry Seinfeld and Renée Zellweger Star in "Bee Movie".
OPENING WEEKEND: $22,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $85,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

June 18th, 2007: Bee Movie is the comedic tale of Barry B Benson (Jerry Seinfeld), a graduate bee fresh out of college, who is disillusioned with the prospect of having only one career choice - making honey. On a chance opportunity to go outside the hive, Barry's life is saved by a woman, Vanessa (Renée Zellweger), a florist in New York City. As their relationship blossoms, Barry's eyes are opened to the world of humans and he soon discovers that people partake in the mass consumption of honey. Armed with this information, Barry realizes his true calling in life and decides to sue the human race for stealing the bees' honey. As a result, the bee and human communities get involved in ways they never had before, each one of them pointing a finger at the other. Barry gets caught up in the middle and finds himself with some very unusual problems to solve.

What to Expect: I am one of the millions of loyal Seinfeld fans out there, so in order to discuss his new project, Bee Movie, I must first delve into the past. The year is 1993; "Seinfeld" is a struggling show with a loyal fan base and critical acclaim, but not much else. Yada, yada, yada, it is 1998 and "Seinfeld" is the #1 comedy on TV. The gang, Jerry (Seinfeld), George (Jason Alexander), Kramer (Michael Richards) and Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) are household names and the actors who play them are huge stars. Jerry then shocks his fans, his network and his co-stars by refusing the most lucrative TV contract at the time, a staggering five million dollars per episode to continue the show. His decision is still in the Guinness Book of World Records for the dubious distinction of "most money refused." His reason for this decision was that he wanted to go out while still on top and to focus on other projects and his personal life. He really did not need the money since he topped the Forbes richest celebrity list that year with a staggering 256 million dollars. Now let us fast forward to today, nine years after the curtain dropped on "Seinfeld."

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Today "Seinfeld" is as popular as ever, finding new life in syndication; it regularly receives much higher ratings than all of its contemporaries like "Friends" and even outperforms many new shows. Meanwhile, Jerry's costars from "Seinfeld" did not fare as well. Each tried to launch post-"Seinfeld" shows that quickly got canned, leading to a new "Seinfeld" term that is not as flattering, "The Seinfeld Curse." Jerry, understanding the giant shadow cast by the show, has astutely shied away from follow up projects. He turned down numerous offers to do sitcoms stating that he would never do the small screen again. Yet, he has not done anything on the big screen either, other than the hugely disappointing 2002 documentary Comedian which followed his standup tour and gave a taste of his new routine. The verdict: not funny. Lets hope that is about to change with the fall release of Bee Movie.

The concept for the movie came about as a joke backstage at a comedy club. Jerry said, "I would like to make a B-movie about bees!" Nothing was done with that concept until one day Jerry was having dinner with DreamWorks co-founder Steven Spielberg. During a lull in conversation, Jerry, in a joking manner, told Spielberg of his idea. Spielberg loved it and encouraged Jerry to refine the concept with Spielberg's studio. The concept evolved into an animated family comedy about bees, similar to DreamWorks big hit Antz. Some may ask, "Why is Seinfeld doing a family comedy?" Well, it is not as strange as you may think. Throughout his entire career, he was one of the few comedians who did not rely on profanity or adult situations to make his audience laugh. The show "Seinfeld" was usually pretty PG, with the exception of the occasional rhyming of a woman's name with a female body part in order to remember it. Since the show's finale, Seinfeld went farther down the family path. He now has three kids and even wrote a children's book, "Halloween," in 2002, so a family movie seems only natural. Jerry did the majority of the writing and story development himself, despite his lack of experience in making anything other than thirty minute sitcoms. Chris Rock even commented on this saying, "Most animated movies are made by committee, and the comedy is scattered. They're great, but this one feels like a handmade suit." Well, Chris, I am going to have to disagree with you on this point; I think Seinfeld's lack of experience is going to shine through.

The production has dragged on for four years with very little progress and much confusion. In fact, early on it was not even known if this was going to be a cartoon or a live action movie, let alone what the story was actually going to be. The early teasers for the movie did not help things in any way. One showed Seinfeld and Chris Rock perched on a windshield in bug costumes engaged in pointless back and forth banter. This teaser led us to believe that this is in fact a live action movie. A second teaser followed that started with Seinfeld once again in a bee costume being extremely frustrated with the props, at which point Spielberg comes out and tells him to do it as a cartoon. The rest of the teaser is a cartoon with a cameo from Vincent, the bear from Over the Hedge. Now all of these teasers are funny and cute, but they have told us nothing of what the movie is really going to be about. The final product as it stands today echoes that confusion.

The plot seems to be a disjointed mess; we do not really know what the focus of the movie really is. Is it going to be the really weird human-bee romance between Vanessa and Barry? Is it going to be a mosquito-bee buddy flick with Moosehead (Rock) and Barry? Is it going to be a story of a young bee finding his way in the world or is it going to be one bee standing up for all the nameless bees against humanity to reclaim the honey? Does that last part sound familiar? How about if we replace bees with penguins, honey with fish, and talking with dancing, what do we get? Happy Feet! The director's ability to balance these seemingly different story lines into one cohesive movie that is not a cheap rip off of Happy Feet, will either make or break this project. Unfortunately, it seems the only thing the producers were sure about was that they were going to load this movie with a lot of A-list celebrities and make a ton of bee jokes, while all the other tangibles were not really worked out well.

In the A-list celebrity category, they did not disappoint. Almost every character in the movie is voiced by someone you know, from animated movie veterans like Zellweger and Mathew Broderick, to first timers like Larry King. He has a very funny seen as the Bee Larry King, who is in utter disbelief that there is a human Larry King who looks just like him. Seinfeld even convinced Oprah to do the voice of the judge who presides over his lawsuit against humanity. The movie also features many "Seinfeld" alumni other than Jerry, including: "Seinfeld" writers Spike Feresten and Andy Robin and a character voiced by Patrick Warburton, better known to "Seinfeld" fans as Putty. Even Seinfeld's long time friend Michael Richards has a role, although the last time we saw him in the headlines was during his crazy, uncalled for, racist rant at a California comedy club. It is good to see that Jerry is staying loyal to his friends through good times and bad.

Early screenings of the movie have so far confirmed my worst fears. I was most disappointed to learn that a lot of the big names I hoped to hear actually have very small roles. A prime example of this is Rock, who was heavily promoting this movie with Jerry, including the well publicized stunt at Cannes where Jerry high wired his way onto a platform in a bee suit. Rock has also appeared in many of the trailers, including the original live action trailer. However, I was saddened to learn that Rock is actually in the movie for only about five minutes; he is very funny and definitely deserves a lot more screen time. Other comments from screeners confirmed the plot as being too random and disjointed. Even going far enough to say the movie seems to be four separate movies that are not connected in any way. Hopefully, Seinfeld and his writers will use the time from now until the film's release wisely to address some of the concerns voiced by screeners and fans alike.

In Conclusion: s one of the many Seinfeld fans who loyally watches the show in syndication, laughing out loud at jokes before they are even said, since I know the episode by heart; I must see this movie. It has been nine long years since I have seen any new material from Jerry that is worth a damn, but I am going to walk into the theater with a heavy heart. I am going to know that this movie is not meant for me. This movie was made for little kids and families. I bee-lieve some of the jokes are going to be funny on multiple levels, but most are going to be bee-nign bee jokes meant for preschoolers. Assuming that the movie is re-edited to make the story flow better, this might be a great children's movie. If the writers leave it as is, than it is going to confuse and disappoint the audience and we will hear much more about the "Seinfeld Curse" this fall.

Oh, and, Jerry, if you are reading this, please make something for your adult fan base! Anything!

Similar Titles: Jerry Seinfeld: Comedian, Antz, Happy Feet
November 2nd, 2007 (wide)
March 11th, 2008 (DVD)


Steve Hickner, Simon J. Smith

Jerry Seinfeld, Renee Zellweger, Alan Arkin, Kathy Bates, Matthew Broderick, Robert Duvall, William H. Macy, Uma Thurman, Rip Torn, Patrick Warburton, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Rock

Total: 60 vote(s).

Animation, Comedy

Click here to view site

Rated PG for mild suggestive humor, and a brief depiction of smoking.

100 min




Bee Movie at RottenTomatoes.com

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