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Bee Movie

DreamWorks Animation SKG

Review in a Hurry:  Everybody's least favorite hive workers get an anthropomorphic makeover, courtesy of Jerry Seinfeld, in this animated flick that's got some stinging wit but a story that's strictly for the birds.

The Bigger Picture:  Bees making honey may be a sure thing, but bees making funny is a less buzz-worthy proposition. Young bee Barry (Seinfeld) can't get his head around the idea of a lifetime of drudgery, so he ventures outside the hive and strikes up a friendship with a friendly florist (Renée Zellweger), which is possible because Bee Movie hangs on a bizarre conceit—bees can talk, they just don't.

Those are the makings of a sweet little coming-of-age comedy, but Seinfeld and company push the idea a little bit too far. Before you know it, Bee Movie has become a courtroom dramedy dancing around the idea of reparations for slavery (!) and mixed with a dicey message about the importance of filling your ecological niche.

Bee Movie does come with plenty of jokes aimed at parents, and it's funny enough in pieces, but the story can't find the sweet spot—anyone old enough to understand it is smart enough to unravel it. And the animation is hit or miss. The fanciful interior of the hive and the human characters are both too fuzzy around the edges, and the animators rely so heavily on blurry, whiplash videogame visuals that it's easy to end up with a headache. There are worse places to take your kids, but Bee Movie is probably not destined for a place on the list of animated classics, and that's gotta sting.

The 180—a Second Opinion:  Leave it to Seinfeld to put together a kid's movie good enough to be judged by a higher standard—and then fail to meet it. If you can forgive Bee Movie for its proportional blunders, you'll make it to the end smiling.