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Bee Movie


Stars: (Voices): Jerry Seinfeld, Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, John Goodman, Kathy Bates, Chris Rock, Oprah Winfrey, Larry Miller, Rip Torn, Patrick Warburton, Michael Richards, Barry Levinson

Director: Simon J Smith, Steve Hickner

Black and yellow are the in colours for Christmas in this buzzy animated frolic. Despite graduating from bee academy to the delight of his parents ('A perfect report card - all Bs'), Barry B Benson (Seinfeld) finds himself resenting the fact that, like most other bees, he's shunted straight into the honey-making factory.

He envies the 'jock' bees who fly off to collect nectar from the flowers, and he decides he wants to be a free bee (sorry, my joke not theirs). On the outside he befriends florist Vanessa (peppily voiced by Zellweger), to the disgust of her boyfriend (Broderick) who, not surprisingly, didn't realise bees only had four legs and could talk.

Barry doesn't fancy a wasp or bee girlfriend, and certainly not a spider - 'It's their eight legs. And I can't get past their faces' - but he revels in Vanessa's company, although he does make a new insect pal in a mosquito (Rock) he meets on a passing windscreen. We could with more of the mozzie, but he disappears for most of the movie after spotting a bloodwagon. 'Did you bring your crazy-straw?' he asks the driver.

Barry's outdoor idyll is shattered when he finds humans are keeping bees in battery-hen conditions to make honey and scoop the profits - and he takes the honeymakers to court. He wins, but upsets the balance of nature in so doing, and has to embark on a madcap plane flight to redress it. 'Isn't John Travolta a pilot?' he asks Vanessa. 'How hard can it be?'

In the end of course, he discovers that freedom isn't the bee-all and end-all of existence, though he does set up an insect law practice with the mosquito. 'I was already a bloodsucking parasite,' comments the latter. 'All I needed was a suitcase.'

It's all pretty good fun, with a few slightly yawny passages, not quite enough funny lines and rather too much time in court, admittedly allowing Ray Liotta, as a demented honey-maker, and Sting, defending the use of his name, to be good sports as themselves. Six legs would also have been nice, but, like Barry B, you can't have everything.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Paramount (DreamWorks). Technicolor.
91 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 11 Dec 2007