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Creepy things

Movies | Web Extra: Bee Movie's ethnic metaphors sting

Issue: "Reinventing Hillary," Nov. 17, 2007

As far as kids are concerned, Bee Movie is a series of nice thoughts and clever jokes. The superb design and kinetic visual set pieces make it an eye-candy buffet, with some minor, very vaguely sexual humor and one minor pun on the Lord's name. Still, it's refreshingly free of bodily functions and pretty easy to watch.

For adults, Bee Movie (PG for mild suggestive humor) is a different story. The film follows Barry (Jerry Seinfeld), an insect with a lot on his mind-he's worried he won't be able to adjust to adult life, a fact that he confides in his buddy Adam (Matthew Broderick) with no small measure of anxiety. Seinfeld can't really act, so he's once again put himself in the same position that made his TV series a success: He doesn't have to act at all. Barry is an indecisive loser in a tight-knit, ethnically unified community that looks an awful lot like Manhattan. Sound like a creepy comparison? Don't shoot the messenger. There are a lot of excruciatingly uncomfortable ethnic metaphors here: Bees are Jews, apparently, and wait... black people are mosquitoes? Seriously?

None of this is likely to upset or even register for kids, but if you're an adult living in a multiethnic community, you can be forgiven for squirming when Barry and Adam have a long conversation about dating inferior, non-"Bee-ish" females. The film also suffers from a dramatic case of plot drift, starting and stoping at least three times over the 90-minute running time.

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Bee Movie isn't the worst thing you could take your kids to see, but this summer's gold mine of kids' movies is just starting to come out on DVD, so you might want to stay home and rent something clever like Ratatouille instead.

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