Bweinh! Goes to the Movies: Bee Movie

February 29, 2008, 2:00 pm; posted by
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Inertia is a property of matter, married men, and the New York Jets. It keeps papers on your desk, does an excellent job of keeping your house exactly where you left it, and generally succeeds in keeping me seated in my apartment — where various corporations are kind enough to provide me with the means to entertain myself, in the event I’m unable to handle the job myself.

But there are forces, “outside forces,” more powerful than inertia. Chief among those forces is the woman, whose desire for such exotic fare as “leaving the house” and “going out” possesses no known bounds. But as the old axiom says, where there is no woman, there will probably be a 15-year-old boy. And that’s how I wound up at a matinee showing of Bee Movie last week, accompanied by my youngest brother, who seemed to want more out of life than a jigsaw puzzle and the Fox Soccer Channel.

I expected to dislike it going in. This wasn’t because the entire plot is based on the fantastic revelation that honeybees can speak — I can deal with unrealistic movies, as long as they maintain their complete lack of realism. It’s where a movie tries to live in that twilight land between fantasy and reality that trouble sets in. Choose your home: real or fake! I had a nagging feeling that Jerry Seinfeld, king of observational humor, would try to straddle that line — and straddling, I assure you, is usually unwise.

So what was the story here? Well, bees can talk! This is unrealistic fantasy, subject only to the rules of the imagination. Excellent! And when it stayed there, the movie was strongest: exploring the (beautiful) architecture and social structure of the beehive, imagining one bee’s struggle for individuality amidst an army of drones, worked, quite literally, to death.

But then our bee escapes the hive, treating us to the two most difficult and laborious settings in film: the love story and the courtroom. Suddenly, the world of fantasy, the talking bee, was opining on economic theory and legal analysis, on the unfairness of life — that is, when he wasn’t making (compound) moon eyes at a well-heeled florist with the nicest New York apartment I’ve ever seen. Fantasy and reality were smashed together in a uncomfortable, jittery mass, like Lutherans on a subway.

And besides, if I want to see a strange-looking creature spout proto-socialist dogma while accompanied by an attractive woman, I’m going with Dennis Kucinich every time.

The movie wasn’t committed enough to fantasy to be fun, yet never became real enough to be incongruously funny. Add Jerry Seinfeld’s trademark — the lilting, braying whine — and the result was a very well-drawn movie I would have preferred to watch in silence.

Inertia, my old friend! I’m sorry I ever left you!

I give this film a “Bwe” out of “Bweinh!” (3 out of 7).


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