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Animation and Anime

What's The Buzz On Seinfeld's BEE MOVIE?!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. Mixed, I’d say. We’ve got three reviews today of a recent screening of BEE MOVIE. Keep in mind, this is very early in the process, and one of the reasons they’re doing this is so they figure out what areas need work. Sounds like our spies have plenty of feedback on that exact topic. Check out this first guy.

Hey there, never written in before, but after sitting through the preview tonight here in Phoenix, I had to write in and prepare everyone. Granted, the movie was about 20% animated and otherwise had lots of storyboards, but no matter how great the movie had looked, it wouldn't have saved it. I was really looking forward to seeing it, but I just gotta warn everyone who, like me, was really looking forward to seeing this one. The trailers are EXTREMELY misleading. If the movie was half as entertaining and clever as the trailers, we would have had a great film on our hands. As it stood, though, it was just disjointed as hell. It definitely felt like the filmmakers had no real idea who to try to appeal to with this film, or really, even what to do with the plot. Each act seems to bring in new characters, and they're all pretty forgettable. Things are introduced in the first act that lead you to believe the movie is heading in a certain direction. Barry (Seinfeld's character) is starting his first day at work, making honey, and decides he just can't do it, because it'll bore him. So he decides he'd rather be a "pollinator jock," who are kinda cool bomber-jacket wearing bees. The plot sticks with that for a while, then suddenly strays completely off-course when Barry gets to leave the hive with the jocks, gets off-course and finally ends up meeting Vanessa, Renee Zellweger's human character. Believe it or not, there's a vague romance between Barry (a bee) and Vanessa (a human), and no one seems to find this that weird. It's quickly explained that bees can talk, but for some reason it's against bee law. So we suddenly have a light romance/buddy movie with Barry and Vanessa, until the movie changes direction again, and becomes all about Barry filing a class action lawsuit against humans for stealing honey from the bees. This might have been all well and good, but many of the jokes fall flat. Some are really quite cute and funny, but then you'll get long, drawn out bits with very bad or childlike jokes that just don't make you laugh, and a kind of awkward boredom starts to set in as you wait for the next time you'll be entertained. And as for Chris Rock? He's in one scene, and never shows up again. All in all, I'll be curious to see how the finished film turns out. But currently, the movie is pretty lacking. In trying to appeal to all audiences, the comedy was all over the place. Sometimes it was genuinely funny, and even a little filthy (about as filthy as, say, the Shrek movies). But a lot of the jokes just fell flat because they were literally something you'd see in a preschool-age show. Anyway, sorry to burst any bubbles, but, right now, Bee Movie isn't anything special. Even the character design and finished animation really leave something to be desired. Oh well. Maybe they can improve it. If you print this, please refer to me as Jerq. Thanks.

Well, I’m sure someone at Dreamworks will be calling you a “Jerq” tomorrow. And me, too, probably. But it seems like that first guy’s reaction wasn’t an isolated thing. Listen to this:

Hey Moriarty. Bee Movie Review for you. Today I was lucky enough to go to a very early screening of Jerry Seinfeld's new animated movie Bee Movie. The film doesn't come out until November and about half of the film was storyboards. Jeffrey Katzenberg was there too and they said it was one of the first public screenings. Anyways on to the film. Jerry Seinfeld stars as Barry Benson, a bee fresh out of college who is not exactly thrilled about going to work in the honey factory for the rest of his life. One day he leaves the hive and is nearly killed until a young florist Vanessa (Renee Zellwegger) saves him. Barry is so greatful that he decides to thank her personally, even though bees are forbidden to speak to humans. The two soon become friends and everything is peachy keen. While walking in a supermarket together, Barry sees packaged honey and finds out that humans also consume honey. This shocks Barry, as the honey has to be forcibly taken from the bees. Soon Vanessa and Barry are working together to sue the honey manufacturers in the Supreme Court and get all of the worlds honey returned to the bees. If you read that summary, you can tell that the story isn't the movie's strong point. It jumps around so much and new plot points are introduced and dropped so rapidly that its confusing. It does, however, have some pretty funny lines. Patrick Warburton steals the show as Ken, Vanessa's human love interest. I also enjoyed how the humor wasn't your generic safe kids humor. Theres a refrence to a person being a "gay man" and one character is described as "very Jewish". It never crosses the line of but it keeps the film from becoming another PC crap fest. Overall, I'd give the movie 3 stars or a letter grade of B. Its funny, but not that funny. The story sucks but it has some original elements that you won't find in most kids films. Its worth a rental or seeing in theaters if you're a big Seinfeld fan. One more thing, although being in the trailer, Chris Rock has 1 scene and about 5 lines. He's very funny as a mosquito headed to alaska ("Moose blood. Its crazy stuff!") but deserved more than a cameo. If you use this, call me Logger.

Some very similar complaints. To me, this sounds like Dreamworks is basically making another ANTZ. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing, but that’s not a film I find myself exactly longing to see again. One last spy, and let’s see if he’s got some of the same issues or not.

Hey there Harry, Long time reader, second time contributor. (I sent you the first TROY review many moons back.) Today I got to see a seriously advanced screening of November's BEE MOVIE with Jerry Seinfeld. Safe to say, this is the first time I have seen a movie eight months before its release. The film was less than half finished, the rest being storyboards and anamatics. Music, voices, and sound effects all seemed to be in place, though, so the lacking animation didn't hurt the screening. The animation that was done looked just as crisp and vibrant as any recent big budget animated movie, so the film is definitely going to look pretty come November. Too bad ther rest sucked. BEE MOVIE was awkward, boring, and badly paced. The movie can be divivded into four 22 minute sections, each with its own focus, like a kids TV show. This made it hard to connect to any overall story because they never stayed with any one aspect long enough for you to care. Yes, it's a cartoon movie, but I've seen plenty of good cartoon movies that didn't have this issue. And to compare it to the animated movies of recent years, at least the SHREKs were funny. Let's break it down: ACT I: Barry the Bee (Jerry Seinfeld) is unhappy with his bee life. Just making honey until death. He decides to situation himself to where he gets to leave the hive to collect polen. This section in the film at its most creative, showing the bee world and all its uses of the honey as fuel, food, swimming pool water, and so on. Seinfeld does a good enough job with the voice acting that I could easily accept him as a voice actor for the rest of his career. All of the other sub-celebrity voices kinda suck, especially Matthew Broderick as Barry's best friend, who goes from okay to annoying in less time than it takes to turn off THE PRODUCERS. ACT II: When out in the world (with flying sequences that are actually quite cool), Barry sees and falls in love with a human woman (voice of Renee Zellweger). See, in this world bees can talk, but have never bothered to speak to humans. This logic didn't work in the shitcake that was TOM AND JERRY: THE MOVIE, and it doesn't work here. Anyway, he talks to her, she has about a minute of freak out, then the "Hey, bees can talk" shock passes, and the two become best friends. Seriously. For the whole movie, the bee-human love aspect is just too damn awkward. I cringed at every slow motion close up and swell of music. Seriously awkward. On a side note, and I think this may just be the Jessica-Rabbit-helped-me-discover-masturbation cartoon geek in me, but Renee Zellweger's animated character is HOT. Very, very yummy. ACT III: Barry discovers that humans, in fact, have bee colonies to harvest he sues the human race. And the world accepts that bees talk, it goes to trial, and Barry becomes a celebrity. I have to go ahead and ruin the film's best bit here: All of these animated movies have become so self-referential, that you can understand that Barry would end up on talkshow "Bee Larry King," voiced by Larry King himself, as a bee. But what tickled me was that for most of the faux interview, Barry is trying to convince Bee Larry King that there is a Larry King in the human world, with a talkshow and suspenders, too, who sounds just like him. If only the rest of the movie had that wit. ACT IV: Well, at this point it's a strange "oops, sorry about ruining the world's economy and plant life" and so everyone has to work together, blah blah blah, save the flowers, such and such. Cartoon or not, if someone is responsible for global devestation (showing us just one dead park to represent the world's situation), a "What did you expect?" conversation on a balcony with a great view is not exactly the best way to make a point about our fragile ecosystem and how we all play out parts. Each section can be viewed like an episode of a show that could get good, but never does. Giving us a story that seems less chopped up would have been nice. Here's hoping the next eight months are well spent because otherwise I won't be spending any of my money to see it. Bonk of 37
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