Madeline Potts is a certified member of Generation Z and in "Potts Shots" she'll be watching older movies she hasn't seen before. This week? Bee Movie (2007).
Yes, Bee Movie. Known most famously for its romance between a bee and a human, the Bee Movie has a reputation. From memes on twitter to shirts printed with the entire script, the movie has populated my feeds for the last few years. Friends have even told me that Bee Movie is a "must-see" but how good could an animated kids movie about a bee falling for a human being? I decided to take the leap and finally watch Bee Movie in its entirety so you don't have to.
The movie follows Barry a worker bee that feels he is heading into a dead-end job. After 9 days of schooling, he and his friend Adam finally graduate and face the hardest decision of their lives (152 days): choosing a position at Honex. A position that they will work every day until they die. "We know you as a Bee has worked your whole life to get to the point where you can work for your whole life." As they enter orientation and are told that once they choose a position, they'll have to work it for their entire life Barry decides that he doesn't want to work a dead-end job and starts looking for other options. He takes a test flight with the Pollen Jocks (brave bees that leave the hive to collect pollen for honey) and eventually gets caught in the rain and separated from the fleet.
We are told earlier that there are only two rules for a bee.
- Bees can't fly in rain.
- Bees aren't allowed to talk to humans… EVER.
With his luck, he lands in a human apartment and ends up in a bowl of guacamole. Just before a human is about to kill Barry his savior Vanessa scoops him up and carries him to the windowsill. Barry, not knowing how to repay her for his life, decides he has to say something and so later that evening he flys back into the apartment and talks to Vanessa. They end up sharing a cup of coffee and a few crumbs of cake and our story truly begins. Throughout the story and Barry's outings with his new human friend he finds that honey is being unlawfully taken from bees. At the climax of the story, Barry involves himself in a supreme court case against Big Honey and WINS. But winning means that Bee's go on vacation and no longer make honey, which causes all the flowers to die. It's then up to Vanessa and Barry to save NYC by taking flowers from the Tournament of Roses to bees in New York City.
If you feel like you just had a weird fever dream while reading this: me too. Bee Movie kept me on my toes, anything was possible. A Bee talking and having a relationship with a human: possible. A bee flying a plane: also possible. But it also felt like a very drawn out metaphor on climate change and also workers' rights. Every line seemingly was somehow supposed to be metaphorically in place for something else, instead of factory workers you had bees and instead of sweatshops, it was honey farms.
While I don't think that the target audience of the movie is going to get its metaphorical significance, I think they might have gotten the feeling. That no matter how small you are, you can still fight for what is right. Even if you feel like your voice can't be heard, someone somewhere will listen and you can make a change. Either that or they just loved the part where Barry flew a plane. Me too kid me too.
I thought Bee Movie was clever and it comforted me knowing that it might have taught an entire generation some important messages. You always have a voice, be nice to the bees (they're really important), and think twice about where your products are coming from. Were they ethically made or was a bee "smoked out" during the process? Besides being a weird fever dream of a movie, there was also a lot to unpack.
I'll let you watch and gauge your own opinion. In the meanwhile, I'll be thinking about a silly kids cartoon for years to come.