Human Flower Project
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Pollen-feld: A Bee Movie Review
Jerry Seinfeld sprouts six legs and casts himself as an apian hero in Bee Movie. Georgia Silvera Seamans has delivered this fun (and mildly critical) synopsis. Spoiler alert! (And you saved us $7.50, Georgia. Thanks!)
Barry (Jerry Seinfeld) finds a geranium haven in the rain
Photo: Bee Movie
The first time Barry, the bee protagonist of Jerry Seinfeld’s new movie, leaves his Manhattan hive, he and seasoned pollen jocks mistake tennis balls for flowers (daisies to be precise). Tennis balls – like flower stigmas—are sticky, and Barry becomes attached to one. He is unintentionally swatted off the tennis ball, out of Central Park, and onto midtown streets. Unable to return to the park and the hive’s pollen jocks before the rain begins to fall heavily (bees cannot fly in the rain), Barry seeks shelter among geraniums in a window box.
The apartment window is open and Barry (Jerry) flies in out of the rain. Having never seen a light bulb before and thinking it to be the sun, Barry flies towards it, hits it, and falls into a guacamole bowl where’s scooped onto a chip. He is almost swallowed when Vanessa’s boyfriend yells, “It’s a bee!” The boyfriend tries to kill Barry with his Timberland boots (product placement?) but Vanessa comes to our hero’s rescue. She captures him in a tall glass and releases him back into the windowsill geranium. Barry takes shelter overnight and in the morning flies back into the apartment to express his thanks. He talks to Vanessa (thus breaking one of the bee rules). She (the voice of Renee Zellweger) stabs herself with a fork to assure herself that she’s not dreaming. They drink coffee and eat rum cake on the roof and become friends. We learn that Vanessa, a florist, wants to attend the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.
Barry accompanies her to the grocery store, where he discovers that honey is being stolen by humans; even Ray Liotta is stealing honey (there is a Ray Liotta line of gourmet honey). Determined to find out what is going on, Barry follows a Honey Farms truck across the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey. At Honey Farms, he discovers rows of human-made hives, and people smoking bees out of them before robbing the honey. He’s so upset that he files suit against the five biggest honey producers in the Supreme Court. Barry wins the case when the mean-spirited attorney for “big honey” mistakenly smokes the bees in the courtroom. The court requires all honey to be returned to bees.
Now oversupplied with honey, the bees stop making it, for the first time in 27 million years. The remainder of the movie focuses on what their decision means for the world—the flowers begin to die. Vanessa is forced to close her florist shop. We see Central Park full of dead trees and flowers. (Actually, many species of city trees are wind-pollinated and so would not suffer from a lack of bee activity.)
Barry and Vanessa team up to save the flowers
Photo: Bee Movie
After closing her shop, Vanessa decides to attend the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, the last inventory of flowers in the world. What do roses have? Pollen. Barry accompanies Vanessa to the tournament with a plan to steal a float of flowers. They capture the Princess and the Pea float, transport the flowers to New York by plane, and with the help of the pollen jocks, re-pollinate the world.
There is a hitch. A traffic jam at JFK airport threatens to delay the flight, but Barry buzzes into the cockpit to tell the pilots they must deliver the cut flowers as soon as possible. Of course, the pilots become alarmed at a bee—a talking bee—in the cockpit. The outcome: the pilots pass out, Barry, Vanessa, and pollen jocks land the plane. Barry is made an honorary pollen jock. He and the others implement his pollination plan.
The trees and flowers are revived, and the hive begins honey production once again.
If we may nit-pick (or bee-swat)—Pollination is not well illustrated in the movie. The pollen jocks use a gun to collect pollen or nectar at the push of a button. Of course, bees collect pollen on their rumps as they collect nectar. Hey, Hollywood, that’s plenty good. Why suggest to children that bees use guns?