Thankfully, "Bee Movie" doesn't live up to its title ... that is, the negative categorization as a lower-class B-movie.
This digitally animated feature is not a great movie, but it is colorful, imaginative and solid entertainment. In many respects, it's more educational and more exciting than it is laugh-out-loud funny.
But your enjoyment of it depends largely on your appreciation for the comedy of Jerry Seinfeld, who produced, co-wrote the script and stars as the voice of Barry B. Benson. He's a huge presence here, and the film does take on the flavor of both his stand-up comedy routines and his long-running, self-titled sitcom.
Getting back to Barry, the character Seinfeld voices, he has recently graduated and is mulling over his life and career options. But what he really wants to do is explore the world outside the hive.
He gets his chance when he goes off on a mission with a group of "pollen jockeys" and finds himself lost in New York City. Luckily, he befriends Vanessa Bloome (Renee Zellweger), a kindly florist who saves his life. Vanessa also helps Barry when he discovers that humans are harvesting the honey produced by bees on huge "farms." He decides to sue the human race on behalf of his fellow insects.
"Bee Movie" gets more mileage out of that seemingly limited premise than you might think. In fact, the amusing courtroom scenes, which feature Oprah Winfrey as a judge and John Goodman as a human attorney, are arguably the film's best.
Other scenes are a little reminiscent of earlier bug-oriented animated features, such as "A Bug's Life" and "Antz," though the various pop-culture jokes and spoofs such as a specific gag about "The Graduate" are fun, as are the spot-the-guest voices (Matthew Broderick and Chris Rock are other insects, Larry King voices an insect version of himself, and Sting and Ray Liotta both play themselves).
"Bee Movie" is rated PG for a few mildly suggestive references, toilet humor and other mild crudities, animated violence (insect attacks, vehicular mayhem), and some brief drug content (bug sprays, as well as an intravenous use of honey). Running time: 90 minutes.