By Stephanie Ciccarelli
March 23, 2008
Have you seen Jerry Seinfeld's animated feature with DreamWorks called "Bee Movie"?
If so, take a couple of seconds to read this post and leave a comment with your thoughts!
Bee Movie has recently come out on DVD.
Late last week, I had the opportunity to watch the movie and listen to the voice overs, keeping my ears tuned for Jerry Seinfield, Matthew Broderick, RenÃ©e Zellweger, Patrick Warburton, and Chris Rock. Casting was by Leslee Feldman.
If you haven't seen the movie, it's about a bee named Barry B. Benson (Seinfeld) who has recently graduated, and to the delight of his parents (Bates, Levinson), is ready to enter the workforce at Honex, the bee colony's only source of employment in the hive.
Bees working at Honex are responsible for a number of tasks with each worker specializing in one very particular position focusing on doing their small job well to keep the honey machine rolling. Although he respects this system, and his friend Adam Flayman (Broderick) is all set to take part, Barry has other ideas.
Barry isn't one to listen to authority and decides to leave the hive and check out what life is like in the world outside of the hive, skipping out on selecting a job in the process.
He takes flight with some pollen jocks (huge, burly bees that go around pollenating the flowers) and subsequently gets separated from the group which results in a few interesting incidents (one involving windshield wipers) which eventually compel Barry to break a critical bee rule: Do not talk to humans.
It is through a heroic rescue that Barry meets Vanessa Bloome (Zellweger), a florist who has a soft spot for talking bees. Once she gets over the initial "Oh my gosh, I'm talking to a bee and he's talking back to me", she develops a friendship with Barry that nearly drives her boyfriend Ken (Warburton) insane.
Along the way, Barry discovers that honey is sold in stores... that's a problem because the bees make honey and he quickly realizes that their product is being lifted from under them by celebrities and profited by without the bees receiving any compensation whatsoever.
A lawsuit ensues and the courtroom is where the voice acting takes a brilliant turn with the introduction of the defense lawyer, Layton T. Montgomery, voiced by John Goodman, who is absolutely hilarious!
Several other cameo roles including celebrities Sting (as himself), Larry King (as Bee Larry King), Ray Liotta (as himself), and add another dimension to the animated feature. Oprah Winfrey (Judge), Kathy Bates (Janet Benson), Barry Levinson (Martin Benson), Rip Torn (Lou Lo Duca), Tress MacNeille (Jeanette Chung / mother / cow) and others were also instrumental to the success of the film.
Barry B. Benson and the bees win the lawsuit and the bees become extremely lazy, breaking down very intricate and notably significant aspects of the eco-system as is related to the act of pollenating (something the bees stopped doing as result of winning the case).
Vanessa's store has to close because there are no flowers, Central Park becomes a shadow of itself and all kinds of issues transpire...
Only the bees can save the world from this crisis, so they band together and solve the problem by going back to work.
To cap it off, Barry and Vanessa open up a new part of her shop that offers flowers, legal advice for insects and sells bee-approved honey.
Now that you know the story, I want to highlight some of the voice acting elements.
Jerry Seinfeld: Exceptional voice acting and a great first role for an on-camera actor / standup comedian entering into the realm of voice acting. The voice is undeniably Jerry but he is definitely working it as a bee. Congrats, Mr. Seinfeld.
Matthew Broderick: Convincing and strong as supporting role. His personality was well suited to the role.
RenÃ©e Zellweger: Was not what I expected to hear although I heard hints of strength and the true "RenÃ©e" throughout when she was speaking in her lower range. It seemed as though she was holding back.
Patrick Warburton: Very funny, fit the role of muscly, slightly jealous boyfriend quite well. His humor was spot on and you'll never think of yogurt the same way again.
Chris Rock: Mosquito with a jazzy groove. You could tell it was Chris Rock but his interpretation of the role was zesty, the character was unique, and was able to stand alone.
John Goodman: Blow the doors down, powerful, electric and showered the booth with an ever-so-convincing southern drawl. Worth watching and waiting for. It was clear that he was having a lot of fun with this role.
P.S. Did anyone catch the bilingual English / Spanish voice over following the graduation before the transition to learning about Honex?
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