Albert Camus once said: “Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” My mind, ravaged by alcohol and deprived of rest, associated this quote with the rise, fall, and second coming of Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld). Bee Movie follows Benson’s struggle as he simply tries to fit in. He is teased by the outer world of the hive and what it has to offer. You could say he is not “beeing” the ideal bee. Bee Movie is now a great meme machine and a culturally notorious piece for a generation, not through quality, but because of character and heart. It is difficult to evaluate the true merits of innovation and craftsmanship here. Everyone is quick to mock a 150 million dollar movie until they realise that’s the budget for Bee Movie, a movie about bees reclaiming their rights and their honey.
Many of these animated ventures cannot be criticised for their animation or art style, particularly because they do not look all that bad. Some have aged like a spilt carton of eggnog, lying out in the sunny, blue-sky thinking days of 2007. But Bee Movie still looks quite solid. That sleek style that would eventually be polished to horrible, glossy perfection in other studios, such as Illumination, is at its height here. But beyond the nice animation and sight gags of hive hairdos and antenna telephones, is a much larger attempt at making an earnest family-oriented film with enough flair for the children and fascinatingly bizarre humour for the adults. Watching this with the tinted glasses of nostalgia necessary, Bee Movie comes across well enough.
“Why does his value have any less than yours?” Vanessa Bloome (Renée Zellweger) asks Ken (Patrick Warburton) when he tries to stomp Barry to death. Well, the life of Ken is likely less expendable than that of a bee lost from his hive. It is his fault for having allergies though. We as a generation accepted this film as children. We did not question Vanessa stabbing her hand with a fork to prove she is awake. We did not question her impending mental breakdown. But the modern values Bee Movie has as a post-modern comedic piece, in the same vein as Freddy Got Fingered and Dirty Work, is beyond the pale. It is incredible to see how the narrative flows, and there is a good, sentimental value that, when chipped away, uncovers a surprisingly strong script. There is a hellish quality to the chanting of “thinking bee” and the three-day crisis that Benson finds himself in. Are we not flowing through our own crisis of character? At least we have more time to deliberate on what we wish to do with ourselves.
What would you do if you only had five to seven weeks to live? That is the average lifespan of the worker bee. Bee good to people. Bee happy for one another. Bee comforted by the solace of family and the closely-knit efforts of the hive. Bee good. Bee a fan of Barry B. Benson and what he wishes to share. When we leave the hive, we are experiencing life itself. We work, we suffer, we die. Try and experience it a bit more along the way. Follow something worth working toward. Benson’s justified mission to understand the human consumption of honey takes him through interrogations, high-speed chases and courtroom dramas. Bee Movie is likeable, relies heavily on the ensemble and the writing talent of Seinfeld, but does elicit some moments of genuinely inspired notions that are beyond the memes and pop culture stance of the story. It is not some artistically rewarding piece, but it is a certainly fun time when the tides of the mind are not crashing on the shore of reason.