Bee Movie

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Bee Movie
Bee movie ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Written by
Produced by
  • Jerry Seinfeld
  • Christina Steinberg
  • Cameron Stevning
Starring
Narrated by Jim Cummings
Edited by Nick Fletcher
Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams
Production
companies
DreamWorks Animation [1]
Columbus 81 Productions [2] [1]
Distributed by Paramount Pictures [1]
Release date
  • November 2, 2007 (2007-11-02)
Running time
91 minutes [3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$150 million [3]
Box office$293.6 million [3]

Bee Movie is a 2007 American computer-animated comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures. Directed by Simon J. Smith and Steve Hickner, the film stars the voices of Jerry Seinfeld, Renée Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton, and Chris Rock in supporting roles. The story follows Barry B. Benson, a honey bee who sues the human race for exploiting bees, after learning from his florist friend Vanessa Bloome that humans sell and consume honey.

Contents

Bee Movie is the first motion picture script written by Seinfeld, who co-wrote the film with Spike Feresten, Barry Marder, and Andy Robin. The film was produced by Seinfeld, Christina Steinberg, and Cameron Stevning. The production was designed by Alex McDowell, and Christophe Lautrette was the art director. Nick Fletcher was the supervising editor and music for the film was composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams. The cast and crew include some veterans of the long-running NBC sitcom Seinfeld , including producers Feresten and Robin and actors Warburton, Michael Richards, and Larry Miller.

Bee Movie was theatrically released on November 2, 2007 to mixed reviews, receiving praise for its humor and voice cast but criticism for its premise and plot. The film was a moderate box office success, grossing $293 million worldwide against a $150 million budget.

Plot

Barry B. Benson, an idealistic honey bee who has the ability to talk to humans, has recently graduated from college and is about to enter the hive's Honex Industries honey-making workforce with his best friend Adam Flayman. Barry is initially excited to join the workforce, but his ambitious, insubordinate attitude emerges upon discovering that his choice of job will never change once picked. Later, the two bees run into a group of Pollen Jocks, bees who collect pollen from flowers outside the hive, and they offer to take Barry with them if he is "bee enough". While on his first pollen-gathering expedition in New York City, Barry gets lost in the rain, and ends up on the balcony of a human florist named Vanessa Bloome. Upon noticing Barry, Vanessa's boyfriend Ken attempts to squash him, but Vanessa gently catches and releases Barry outside the window, saving his life.

Barry later returns to express his gratitude to Vanessa, breaking the sacred rule that bees are not to communicate with humans. Barry and Vanessa develop a close friendship, bordering on attraction, and spend time together. When he and Vanessa are in the grocery store, Barry discovers that the humans have been stealing and eating the bees' honey for centuries. He decides to journey to Honey Farms, which supplies the grocery store with its honey. Incredulous at the poor treatment of the bees in the hive, including the use of bee smokers to incapacitate the colony, Barry decides to sue the human race to put an end to exploitation of the bees.

Barry's mission attracts wide attention from bees and humans alike, and hundreds of people show up to watch the trial. Although Barry is up against tough defense attorney Layton T. Montgomery, the trial's first day goes well. That evening, Barry is having dinner with Vanessa when Ken shows up. Vanessa leaves the room, and Ken expresses to Barry that he hates the pair spending time together. When Barry leaves to use the restroom, Ken ambushes Barry and attempts to kill him, only for Vanessa to intervene and break up with Ken. The second day at the trial, Montgomery unleashes an unrepentant character assassination against the bees leading a deeply offended Adam to sting him. Montgomery immediately exaggerates the stinging to make himself seem the victim of an assault while simultaneously tarnishing Adam. Adam's actions jeopardize the bees' credibility and put his life in danger, though he recovers. The third day, Barry wins the trial by exposing the jury to the torturous treatment of bees, particularly use of the smoker, and prevents humans from stealing honey from bees ever again. Having lost the trial, Montgomery cryptically warns Barry that a negative shift of nature is imminent.

As it turns out, Honex Industries stops honey production and puts every bee out of a job, including the vitally important Pollen Jocks, resulting in all the world's plant life beginning to die out. Before long, the last remaining flowers on Earth are being stockpiled in Pasadena, California, intent for the last Tournament of Roses Parade. Barry and Vanessa travel to the parade and steal a float, which they load into a plane. They hope to bring the flowers to the bees so they can re-pollinate the world's last remaining flowers. When the plane's pilot and co-pilot are unconscious, Vanessa is forced to land the plane, with help from Barry and the bees from Barry's hive.

Barry becomes a member of the Pollen Jocks, and they fly off to a flower patch. Armed with the pollen of the last flowers, Barry and the Pollen Jocks reverse the damage and save the world's flowers, restarting the bees' honey production. Later on, Barry runs a law firm at Vanessa's flower shop titled "Insects at Law", which handles disputes between animals and humans. While selling flowers to customers, Vanessa offers certain brands of honey that are "bee-approved".

Voice cast

Marketing

Trailers

Two teaser trailers were released for the film that feature Seinfeld dressed in a bee costume, trying to shoot the film in live-action. Eddie Izzard portrays the director, and Steven Spielberg suggests to Seinfeld in the second trailer to just do it as a cartoon. Upon the release of the first trailer, it was announced that three of the live-action teasers would be released in total. [4] In the second trailer, Steven Spielberg is taking a picture of himself and an assistant director, referencing the camera gag Ellen DeGeneres pulled on him during the 79th Academy Awards. After Seinfeld fails to do scenes in live-action, Spielberg suggests Seinfeld that the film can just be made as a cartoon. One of the crew members announces that the film is a cartoon, having the crew leave the stage studio. The trailer finally shows the movie as an animated CGI feature. Also in the second trailer, the bear that jumps out at Barry is Vincent the Bear from Over the Hedge , another DreamWorks Animation SKG movie. [5] [6]

The third trailer was released with Shrek the Third , but this was an animated teaser. The fourth trailer was released on the Bee Movie official website, and revealed most of the film's plot. [7] In addition, two weeks before the release, NBC aired 22 behind-the-scenes skits called "Bee Movie TV Juniors," all of which are staged and tongue-in-cheek in nature. [8] The popular internet site Gaia Online featured a great deal of promotional material for the film. [9]

Books

Eleven books were released for the film:

Video game

A video game titled Bee Movie Game was released on October 30, 2007 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo DS. [20]

Home media

Bee Movie was released on DVD on March 11, 2008 in both fullscreen and widescreen formats and a 2-disc special edition DVD. The single-disc extras include the "Inside the Hive: The Cast of Bee Movie" and "Tech of Bee Movie" featurettes, "We Got the Bee" music video, "Meet Barry B. Benson" feature, and interactive games. [21] The special edition DVD extras additionally include a filmmaker commentary, alternate endings, lost scenes with commentary, the live action trailers, and Jerry's Flight Over Cannes. [22] An HD DVD version was cancelled after the discontinuation of that format. [23] Paramount released the film on Blu-ray Disc on May 20, 2008, making it DreamWorks Animation's first film to be released on that format. [24]

Reception

Critical reception

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes , which categorizes reviews only as positive or negative, 49% of 174 reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Bee Movie has humorous moments, but its awkward premise and tame delivery render it mostly forgettable." [25] According to the review aggregator Metacritic , which sampled 34 reviews and calculated a weighted average of 54 out of 100, Bee Movie received "mixed or average reviews". [26] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale. [27]

Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "It's on the easygoing level of Surf's Up , and a full tick up from, say, Over the Hedge or The Ant Bully . But given the Seinfeld pedigree it's something of a disappointment." [28] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three out of four stars, saying "At its relaxed best, when it's about, well, nothing, the slyly comic Bee Movie is truly beguiling." [28] Desson Thomson of The Washington Post said, "Bee Movie feels phoned in on every level. The images, usually computer animation's biggest draw, are disappointingly average. And as for the funny stuff, well, that's where you were supposed to come in." [29]

A.O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "The most genuinely apian aspect of Bee Movie is that it spends a lot of its running time buzzing happily around, sniffing out fresh jokes wherever they may bloom." [30] Claudia Puig gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying "Bee Movie is certainly not low-budget, but it has all the staying power and creative value of a B-movie. The secret life of bees, as told by Seinfeld, is a bore with a capital B." [28] Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film three stars out of four, saying "Bee Movie is not Shrek, and it is not Ratatouille either (by far the standout computer-animated feature of the year). But it has enough buzzing wit and eye-popping animation to win over the kids—and probably more than a few parents, too." [31] Richard Roeper gave the film a positive review, saying "This is a beautifully animated, cleverly executed, warm and funny adventure." [28]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two out of four stars, saying "All of this material, written by Seinfeld and writers associated with his television series, tries hard, but never really takes off. We learn at the outset of the movie that bees theoretically cannot fly. Unfortunately, in the movie, that applies only to the screenplay. It is really, really, really hard to care much about a platonic romantic relationship between Renee Zellweger and a bee, although if anyone could pull it off, she could." [32] Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film three out of four stars, saying "The vibe is loose-limbed and fluky, and the gags have an extra snap that's recognizably Seinfeldian. If I believed in a sitcom afterlife, I'd swear the whole thing was cooked up by Kramer and George's dad." [33]

Box office

The film opened in second place to American Gangster , but its gross of $38,021,044 had it more in line with the studios' lowest-grossing features, such as Shark Tale . The film had an average of $9,679 from 3,928 theaters. [34] In its second weekend, the film held well with a 33% drop to $25,565,462 and claiming the top spot, resulting in a $6,482 average from expanding to 3,944 theaters. [35] Its widest release was 3,984 theaters, and closed on February 14, 2008 after 104 days of release, grossing $126,631,277 domestically along with an additional $166,883,059 overseas for a worldwide total of $293,514,336. [3] Based on its domestic box office performance, the film failed to recoup its production budget of $150 million. [3] [36] Following the income from worldwide box office, home media, and pay television, the film ultimately turned a small profit for the studio. [37] [38]

Awards and nominations

Bee Movie was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 65th Golden Globe Awards. [39]

Barry B. Benson was the presenter for Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film on the 80th Academy Awards for 2008. Beforehand, he showed the audience some of his "prior" roles, including every bee in the swarm in The Swarm . [40]

Awards
AwardCategoryNameOutcome
35th Annie Awards Annie Award for Best Animated Feature Nominated
Annie Award for Best Animation Production Artist Michael Isaak
Annie Award for Best Music in an Animated Feature Production Rupert Gregson-Williams
Annie Award for Best Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Athanassios Vakalis
Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Patrick Warburton
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature
Golden Globe Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing - SFX, Foley, Dialogue & ADR for Feature Film Animation Michael Silvers
Will Files
Luke Dunn Gielmuda
J.J. George
Scott Guitteda
Kyrsten Mate Comoglio
Robert Shoup
Shannon Mills
Steve Slanec
Kevin Crehan
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Animated Movie
Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Jerry Seinfeld
Producers Guild of America Animated Theatrical Motion Picture Jerry Seinfeld
Christina Steinerg
Young Artist Awards Best Family Feature Film (Animation)

Lawsuits

Beebylon vs. DreamWorks

Bee Movie is alleged to be similar to a concept developed in 2000 by a team of Swedish animation students, which they claim was presented to DreamWorks in 2001 under the name Beebylon. The animation students say DreamWorks rejected the idea, on the basis of it being "too childish". When Bee Movie was announced in 2003, the students claim they once again contacted DreamWorks to make sure the movie was not similar to their original concept, and were given a reassuring answer. When one of the members of the Beebylon team saw a trailer of the movie in 2007, he found it to be extremely similar and attempted to find a U.S. lawyer who could represent them. Jerry Seinfeld rejected the plagiarism claims during his PR tour for Bee Movie in Sweden. [41]

Beeceuticals vs. DreamWorks

A Florida-based cosmetics company called Beeceuticals filed a lawsuit over the use of their trademarked phrase "Give Bees a Chance". [42] [43] The suit between the parties was settled out of court. [44]

Internet popularity

Several years after the film's release, Bee Movie had an unexpected rise in popularity as an Internet meme.

In 2015, posts of the entire film screenplay spread across Facebook. [45] [46] In November 2016 YouTube user "Avoid at All Costs" uploaded a video where the entire film sped up every time the word "bee" was used. The video, titled The entire bee movie but every time they say bee it gets faster, has gathered over 17 million views as of May 2017. [47] [48] The popularity of this video spawned several variants where the movie or trailer is edited in unusual ways. [49] Vanity Fair would later characterize the film's late popularity as "totally bizarre." [50]

There have been some attempts to explain the phenomenon: Jason Richards, whom Vanity Fair identified as one of the larger promoters of the meme via his @Seinfeld2000 Twitter handle has noted the "off-brand Pixar quality" as a possible reason, [50] while Barry Marder, one of the film's script writers, identified "that odd relationship between an insect and a human woman," as the possible cause. [51] Inverse meanwhile writes that the film's internet popularity "was a reaction not just to the movie itself but to the realization among millennials that they’d been shown a truly odd movie as children and thought nothing of it." [52]

Writing for New York magazine, Paris Martineau identified the meme as starting on Tumblr circa 2011 at which point users would, apparently in earnest, post the opening quotation identifying it as inspiring. [53] By December 2012, however, these posts became so ubiquitous that it would inspire parodies. [53] It has also been suggested that the spread of videos such as The entire bee movie but every time they say bee it gets faster was inspired by the preceding popularity of the "We Are Number One" meme videos, many of which used a similar title format of "We Are Number One but...". [49]

Seinfeld said that he has no interest to make a sequel to Bee Movie in the wake of its online popularity. [54]

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