Sunday, October 28, 2007

London Film Fest Day 12 - BEE MOVIE

BEE MOVIE is a new CGI animated flick from Dreamworks. It features a bee called Barry who decides to break out of the monotony of working in the hive and makes friends with a florist called Vanessa. Barry also discovers that big food companies farm hives for honey and get fat off the profits. So he sues them in the Supreme Court and duly wins back all rights to honey for the bees. Now drowning in the globe's honey stocks, the bees no longer need to make any more. So they kick up their heels. As a result, the flora and the fauna of the world dies out through lack of pollination. Barry and Vanessa must therefore make a last ditch attempt to pollinate the last batch of flowers on earth.

The movie is very smart and very witty as one would expect from a project created by, written by and starring Jerry Seinfeld. As a naive bee entering the world for the first time, Seinfeld can comment on all the craziness he sees. And yes, he is basically just Seinfeld as a bee. There is no other characterisation to the part. Luckily, just being Seinfeld is probably enough to give the audience its ticket-price worth of belly-laughs.

Problem is that other than the disposable one-liners, there's not much to this film. The animation is pretty basic - not a patch on recent Pixar efforts or indeed old-school stop-mo flicks like
MAX AND CO. Perhaps more seriously, the movie doesn't have much heart. Law suits and work-life balance are not the stuff of memorable films and BEE MOVIE lacks the emotional centre of a TOY STORY or RATATOUILLE. And this seems to me to be a constant complaint with Dreamworks animation films. They are all funny, more or less, but are technically weak and have no heart. The only real hit they've had was SHREK and that franchise has delivered diminishing returns. By contrast, films like TOY STORY, FINDING NEMO and RATATOUILLE have real stories, character development and emotional pull as well as the quick-fire wit.

So BEE MOVIE gets a qualified thumbs-up. You will, no doubt, have a good time. But I doubt you'll take it to your heart.

BEE MOVIE premiered at London 2007. It opens in Russia, the US, Singapore, Mexico Spain and Taiwan in November and in Argentina, Australia, Hungary, Brazil, Iceland, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Slovakia, Turkey, the UK, Slovenia, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Sweden amd Norway in December 2007. It opens in Japan and Egypt in January 2008.

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