“Bee Movie,” review by Susan Granger

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Call it the curse of high expectations but when Jerry Seinfeld makes his first animated feature, laughs should flow like honey but they don’t – unless you’re really into bee puns.

After college, bumblebee Barry B. Benson (Seinfeld) spends some time with the macho Pollen Jocks before starting work at the factory in New Hive City. Trapped in an apartment, he encounters a friendly florist, Vanessa (Renee Zellweger), who saves him from being annihilated by her boyfriend (Patrick Warburton). Breaking beedom’s code of behavior, Barry talks to her. In return, she shows him how humans buy honey at the store. Feeling exploited, Barry gets so furious about this injustice that he sues humankind.

After a courtroom fight – in which Sting (himself) is accused of stealing his stage name from bee culture – Barry wins, defeating a blustering Southern lawyer (voiced by John Goodman). So honey is taken off the market. Bees lose their production jobs at Honex, flowers don’t get pollinated and all vegetation in Central Park dies. If you’re in a New York state of mind, that spells ecological disaster for the world.

Flitting in the background, there’s a fast-talking mosquito Chris Rock), along with Barry’s pal, Adam (Matthew Broderick), and his parents (Kathy Bates and Barry Levinson) who worry about Vanessa: could she be a WASP? Plus Ray Liotta playing himself.

Forbes magazine reports that comic icon Jerry Seinfeld earns $60 million a year in syndication royalties and from his stand-up gigs, yet he’s the brain and voice of this simplistic yet heavily-hyped effort. Despite the weak writing, the computer animation is often eye-catching, although not up to Pixar standards. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Bee Movie” buzzes in as a surreal 6, an amusing 82-minute diversion.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.