Jerry Seinfeld, RenÃ©e Zellweger, Matthew Broderick
Steve Hickner, Simon J. Smith
For Jerry Seinfeld’s first major big- or small-screen role since Seinfeld,
he has chosen the post-millennial refuge of the damned: The cartoon caricature. Barry B. Benson, the star bee, doesn’t even look like the 53-year-old comedian/actor. Not unlike the live-action, skit-based marketing blitz that preceded it, Bee Movie
is a desperate, unfocused collection of bits and schtick that sends you out of the theater exhausted and unsatisfied. Seinfeld wrote the script with a few cohorts from his TV days, and it’s not without the occasional, vaguely edgy spark of invention. The central conceit, if you can call it that, involves Barry’s attempts to bring a class action suit against the human race for bee slavery and honey pilfering. But the filmmakers’ touch is so thudding and uncertain that at any given moment it seems Bee Movie
might be something else entirely: a right-wing parable about the evils of federal regulation; a brainless, whiz-bang roller-coaster ride; or maybe a standard-issue “don’t be a drone, be yourself” kids’ movie. Where a Pixar effort like The Incredibles
jam-packed all of its grown-up references into its first 10 minutes, Bee Movie
hems and haws from the start, offering not one but three swooping chase scenes in an attempt to placate the kids before settling into a tepid quasi-romance between Barry and insect-friendly florist Vanessa (Renée Zellweger, drawn to look like an even-more-robotic Jennifer Aniston).