Movie Reviews: Bee Movie

Kerry Bennett
January 19, 2013
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MPAA Rating: PG
Overall: B+
Violence: B-
Sexual Content: B
Language: A-
Drugs/Alcohol: B+

Graduating from college in three days might seem like an awesome accomplishment---unless you're a bee with a condensed life cycle. Fresh from commencement exercises, Barry B. Benson (voice by Jerry Seinfeld) and his pal Adam Flyman (voice by Matthew Broderick) are introduced to the inner workings of the hive where each alumna gets a chance to pick his or her job in the honey factory.

Yet the thought of settling in for a lifetime of stirring honey, like his father (voice by Barry Levinson), seems overwhelming to Barry. So when the adventurous graduate gets a chance to form ranks with the pollen jocks and take a trip outside the hive, he's more than willing to go. It's there, in the big, broad world, that Barry makes two important discoveries. First he meets Vanessa (voice by Renee Zellweger), a gentle florist who saves him from an untimely death on the bottom of a boot. Secondly, he discovers that humans have been stealing honey from the little bumbling creatures and profiting from its sale.

Having already broken the insects' cardinal rule---never talk to humans---Barry abandons all bug protocol and, with Vanessa's help, decides to sue the whole human race for its injustices against the honeybee. It's an engaging and rollicking journey as Barry and his defense team takes on the high-powered lawyers of the food producers. However, the court case proves to have drawbacks for the hardworking members of the colony as well as the rest of mankind.

Dripping with cameo appearances from personalities like Sting, Ray Liotta and Larry King, the script is humming with parodies and humor for teens and adults. And while many of the veiled sexual jokes and obscure references to drug use will hover over the heads of younger audiences members, some may find the cartoon violence to be disturbing. One startling moment happens when a woman, believing she is dreaming, stabs herself in the hand with a fork. Later she considers forming a suicide pact with another unhappy member of society. Along with moments of peril for the bees, a Winnie-the-Pooh-like character is shot in the neck with a tranquilizer gun and a S.W.A.T. team assaults an old woman. Some brief moments of name-calling and a few irreverent religious comments are also included.

Still, the film comes with sweet messages about good work ethics and a purposeful life. From an environmental bent, the movie stresses the important but often unseen connection between humans and other creatures in the world. It also reminds viewers that there are often unanticipated consequences for choices.

Fortunately with all the laughs, these messages go down as smooth as honey. But parents, who want to avoid getting stung, need to "bee ware" some aspects of this animated hive may be unsuitable for those still in the larvae stage.

Beyond the movie ratings: What Parents need to know about Bee Movie...

The Bee Movie offers plenty of fun for most family members. Still parents need to be aware that the film contains some brief veiled sexual comments and drug references. Name-calling and some infrequent but irreverent religious comments are made as well. For most families, the violent content will be of most concern. Believing she is asleep, a woman stabs herself in the hand with a fork to wake herself. Later when she is facing some difficulties, she momentarily considers suicide. Among other things, the bees often find themselves in peril as they navigate the outside world. A bee is sucked into a car engine, one is threatened by a man using an aerosol can and lighter to try and light the bee on fire, and another is hospitalized after stinging a man. A quick depiction of smoking is also shown.

Talk about the movie with your family...

What is a symbiotic relationship? What does Barry learn about the connection between the bees' activities and the outside world? How do those discoveries change his perspective about his mission in life?

By each doing their part, the hive inhabitants are able to accomplish a lot of work. What other commendable traits do the bees exhibit? What does it mean to "Think Bee"?

To learn more about the recently reported plight of bees, click on the following sites.

Video alternatives...

A young ant yearns for adventure outside the hill and takes the chance to explore the world around him in A Bug's Life. Narrated and produced in part by Leonardo Dicaprio, the documentary, The 11th Hour, takes a critical look at the interconnections between humans and their environment -- including bees. For more information on the film visit

Review Courtesy of the Parents Television Council.


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