Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bee Movie? Try Bee Minus

Like many a culture geek, I was really looking forward to watching No Country for Old Men this weekend. I've heard so many reviews calling it one of the Coen Brother's best, and I've read one Cormac McCarthy novel with loose plans for picking up The Road one of these days, so yeah, I was about as excited as one could be about catching a dry, tense, music-less, murderous cat-and-mouse thriller. Instead, I saw Bee Movie.

My wife was planning on taking a few of her well-behaved students out as a treat (apparently at a certain young age spending time outside of school with one's teacher is considered a treat), she needed an extra chaperone and I was easily bribed with the prospect of free popcorn. The movie, if you're not familiar with its plot (I realize it wasn't heavily advertised, so it may have slipped past your filmic radar), goes a little something like this:

After a fleetingly brief childhood (humor = bees have a short life span!), the bee voiced by Jerry Seinfeld named Barry (Jerry with a bee! Get it?) is startled by the revelation that adult life consists of picking a career track and working in that field until one's death. There must be more to life than that, thinks Barry, so he ventures out of the hive on a pollen-collecting expedition. Along the way, he gets lost, breaks the cardinal bee law against speaking to humans, and learns that some humans have been keeping bees in cages to extract the honey for commercial gain. The only logical solution, of course, is to pursue an idealistic, knee-jerk lawsuit in which fat capitalist pigs (figuratively) are brought to task for exploiting the labor of bees (literally). This is not so much a plea for the equal treatment of all earthly creatures as it is a rallying cry to return the capital and means of production back to the average working man (or bee, in this case). Unsurprisingly, through a series of courtroom shenanigans that would make Sam Waterston blush, the judge rules in favor of the bees (despite it being a jury trial).

While this ruling is all fine and dandy, and certainly not unexpected given the animated children movie genre's unblinking bias in favor of the likeable underdog, it turns out there is a dastardly twist (and yes, more spoilers ensue). Now that the entire honey supply has been rightfully returned to the bees of the world (somehow a New York district court case involving a non-citizen and a vaguely defined defendant has global ramifications), the bees are left with more honey than they know what to do with, so they react in opposition to what bee culture has taught them to do for the past 27 million years: they stop working. Isn't this every anti-Communists' worst nightmare? You return power to the working class and what do they do, they slag off doing the backstroke in a giant pool of honey. Despicable.

The ramifications of this generalized bee laziness is far-reaching: now that bees are no longer pollinating certain types of flowers, all vegetation on earth (not just the flowers dependant on bee pollination, mind you) is slowly withering away to nothing. Through another series of stunts too ludicrous to recount in this here blog, Barry the bee and his humanoid girlfriend manage to heist one of the last few remaining batches of fresh flowers and re-pollinate NYC, thereby averting global vegetative disaster.

The moral of the story, basically, is to not question your lot in life or else you'll risk destroying your entire civilization, and that's just a terrible message to send to kids. That's all I had to say about it. For shame, Jerry, for shame.

And that, in a nutshell, is way more information than I was hoping to share about this movie.