The trailers for Bee Movie focused on two things, live action actors pretending to do animation in costumes and large sets, and the other was Jerry Seinfeld the hugely popular comedian.
While neither is bad in itself, the film was totally CGI so there didn't seem as though there was a place for the live action comic moments that I'd seen, and I hoped that the film wasn't going to solely rely on Seinfeld. In reality the trailers weren't that great an indication of the film itself, I hoped.
Now that I've seen it I can confirm that it doesn't rely on Jerry Seinfeld, and the monologues and style we're used to in his television series are present, but they don't override the rest of the film. Plus, it's a good film.
However don't be thinking that this is one of these animated films that has two levels of humour seamlessly woven together in one, for this film is almost entirely void of the adult levels of humour that modern animated films carry, particularly DreamWorks and Pixar. This one is for the kids, and for the kid in you, and believe me it will bring out that kid.
Before I talk about it, just a quick thankyou to Vue Cinema at Ocean Terminal for their support in these reviews, they are a really good bunch there and are proving to be very kind with Filmstalker. Plus it's just so easy to get to...and those hotdogs...Mmmm....
I don't think that this is DreamWorks best moment though, the film is good but there's some little spark that it lacks in most places and just finds in key sequences.
The story is about a bee named Barry who has just graduated from school and is getting ready to take his menial but important job for life within the hive. It's this that begins his exciting journey, for the prospect of Barry taking a single job for his entire life is very disheartening and he decides to avoid choosing.
Instead he finds himself drawn to the Pollen Jocks, the bee's who head out of the hive and collect the nectar for the honey production and spread the pollen between flowers, and it's on this journey that he finds his true calling, and meets humans for the first time.
Bee's are specifically told not to speak to humans, but after one saves his life Barry does, and as he befriends her he discovers what humans are doing with the bee's honey and the bees that make it. They're enslaved and their honey farmed mercilessly. So Barry decides to do something about it and fight back against the humans on behalf of the bees of the world.
Yes, it's an utterly ridiculous story, but through the subtle, humanised animation and the strong script, you soon find yourself drawn into the characters and their lives. In fact I felt myself slipping into the story all too easily.
So although the film may lack that adult nature that so many other CGI animated films do these days, it does have the DreamWorks magic that pulls you into the story and makes you believe in the characters, makes you believe that they are real.
The acting is good, you'll catch voices and think you recognise them all throughout the film because it's packed with big names and talent. Some of the most notable, and funny cameos in the film are Ray Liotta and Sting, I was laughing the most at Liotta's appearance and his willingness to make light of himself and his own career.
Jerry Seinfeld, Renée Zellweger and John Goodman are the best moments of the lead actors, although a couple of short appearances by Chris Rock set-up one of the best closing lines and character endings in the film.
There should be a special mention to Patrick Warburton who plays Ken, the possible boyfriend of Renée Zellweger's Vanessa whom Barry forms a close relationship with. For his character does have some great moments and he's always so frustrated and angry. He's a character you do hate, but you love to see on screen.
The animation of all these actors is really well done, there seems to be a concentration on the emotive aspects of the characters and that really does help the overall performance. Although this is more cartoon based animation than high-end CGI, it does make for some very strong emotional performances in the characters, and you do connect with them on that level.
The story is filled with surprises too, although there aren't so many little moments as you often find in films like this such as Shrek, the story does provide for some amusing takes on human life, relationships, and respect, most of all respect for the natural world around us.
Yes, there are some educational and moralistic moments to the film, but they are dripping with sentimentality in a totally palatable way and you'll gobble them up, just like honey. Some of the scenes did actually touch me, but then I can be a big sap at the best of times.
There was nothing I could do to prevent beaming and feeling a big warm glow during some of the more emotional and bigger picture moments.
Sure there are moralistic and educational messages, but this doesn't get in the way of the story or of the comedy, and there are some very funny moments. One of mine was the windshield sequence, and the final payoff from Chris Rock's mosquito, that was inspired.
I did feel that the turnaround in the story, post the courtroom scenes, and the final attempts by Barry to undo his mistakes were rather rushed, but it's not a major flaw. The story is an inventive one and does have some nice touches, but really it's the characters that win through in this tale.
Although not as strong as some other DreamWorks offerings, and lacking a little bit of more adult focused humour, it is a funny and heart warming film, well worth taking your loved one and/or children to see.