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BEE MOVIE

Review by Gordon Justesen

Voices: Jerry Seinfeld, Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick,  John Goodman, Patrick Warburton, Chris Rock
Directors: Simon J. Smith, Steve Hickner
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Dreamworks
Features: See Review
Length: 90 Minutes
Release Date: March 11, 2008

“Have you ever been stung, Mr. Sting? Because I’m feeling a little stung, Sting.”

Film ***

When Jerry Seinfeld ended his popular sitcom in 1998, I don’t think a person on the planet speculated that the comedian’s first big movie project would surface nearly ten years later, and that it would be a computer animated film about a bee. Nevertheless, Seinfeld has brought his signature touch of comedy to the hilarious and visually stunning animated feature, appropriately titled Bee Movie. In fact, had it not been for Ratatouille, this would’ve come off as the best animated feature of 2007.

Not only does Jerry lend vocal talent, but he also serves as one of the writers and producers of the project. While I was never the most die-hard fan of the series Seinfeld, I’ve always admired Jerry’s trademark dry wit and the uniquely funny observations made in his comedy act. And everything I admire about Seinfeld has made its way into Bee Movie.

Let it be known that is the best movie about bees that we will ever have the pleasure of seeing. Jerry provides the voice for the character of Barry B. Benson, a recent college graduate who is stunned to realize that college is followed with only one option, to work in the corporate honey factory known as Honex. Not only are bees expected to work here, but they are told on the spot that they will be worked to death.

Then Barry ends up journeying outside the hive and into the human world, in New York City no less. Within his first few minutes amongst humans, Barry’s life is saved by the sympathetic Vanessa (Renee Zellweger), a city florist. They develop a friendship, and teach each other the ways of their world.

The centerpiece of the plot is Barry’s shocking reaction to the notion that humans are selling honey, and selling hugely. In a grocery store, he notices multiple brands of packaged honey, including one carrying the name of none other than Ray Liotta. Barry plans to retaliate by suing the human population for stealing the prized product of his civilization.

Then comes a hilarious bit involving Barry’s trial, which has him conducting a case against honey manufacturer Layton T. Montgomery (John Goodman). Barry brings a number of witnesses to the stand, all of which he accuses of stealing all sorts of bee terms for popularity. Needless to say, he brings Sting to the stand (a classic bit). And Ray Liotta even shows up, while showing off an Emmy Award for a supporting role on ER.

I’ve got to credit the animation in this movie. It’s absolutely breathtaking in just about every shot. It’s difficult to distinguish the visual quality of all the big computer animated releases, since they all look incredible, but the animated team at Dreamworks have really outdone themselves with Bee Movie. The studio’s animation department reportedly put in the most hours to date on a single animated movie, and it shows in the finish product from beginning to end.

And like the best animated films, Bee Movie serves as grand entertainment for both kids and adults. Since the film carries Jerry Seinfeld’s trademark witty comedy, it’s got the adults covered, while the kids will love the slapstick elements, which are also quite funny. It’s a terrific animated comedy where one of the brilliant minds of comedy blends with some truly incredible animation to make a movie about bees that’s impossible not to enjoy.

Video ****

Dreamworks has created another amazing looking release to add to their animation library. And since I find this to be their most fantastic looking animated feature yet, it goes without saying that the disc quality is quite simply astonishing. Any description I give of the all around detail of this anamorphic picture will not do it justice…it’s one you just have to see and be awestruck by. Image quality is wonderfully clear from beginning to end, and the colors provide a true treat for the eyes.

Audio ****

The disc also serves up a phenomenal 5.1 mix. The sound mix is lively and superbly dynamic throughout the movie, with plenty of music playback and physical comedy to go around. Dialogue delivery is terrifically clear, as always.

Features ***1/2

This two disc release, make that Very Jerry 2-Disc Edition is the edition to track down if it’s the better bonuses you want. Disc One includes a funny commentary track with Jerry Seinfeld and numerous members of the production crew, as well as Jerry's 16 TV Juniors (hilarious short promotions), Alternate Endings and Lost Scenes, a look at Jerry's Flight Over Cannes, Original Live-Action Trailers, and a featurette titled “Inside the Hive: The Cast of Bee Movie”.

On Disc Two, we have a music video for “We Got the Bee”, a Pollination Practice Video Game, The OW! Meter, “The Buzz about Bees”, which explains the importance of actual bees, a featurette titled “Meet Barry B. Benson”. Rounding out this hive are additional interactive games and a Dreamworks video jukebox.

Summary:

Bee Movie represents the best mixing of sharp comedy and even sharper animation. Jerry Seinfeld’s take on the bee world deserves to be a cherished animated feature for years to come.

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