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Saturday, June 07, 2014

Bee Movie

With summer fast approaching (exactly two weeks from today), there's certainly a lot of sights that I am seeing right now that I didn't see six months ago.  You remember?  That time in which we were stuck in that seemingly endless winter with snowdrifts as tall as a three-story building?  I get chills just thinking about it.

No, wait.  That's the A/C inside that's making me chilly.  Hold on a minute while I adjust the temperature settings.

Ah.  That's better.  Now, where were we?  Oh, yes.  Summer sights.

Yes, this is the time of year in which people hock their old wares to make some money for new stuff at garage and yard sales.  This is the time of year in which you take in the smell of barbecues and freshly cut grass.  It's the time of year in which kids run through sprinklers or ride their bikes down the street to the corner store for ice cream cones.

And it's also the time of year in which a lot of creatures come out of hibernation and bask in the hot summer sun.

This is a story about one such creature that for years I despised.  A creature that I wanted to see eradicated from the planet once and for all.  A creature that just happens to be linked to today's "Saturday Night at the Movies" blog entry.

I'm talking about bees.

As a child, I hated bees with a passion.  To me, they were annoying black and yellow striped pests who did nothing but hurt people.  I think I can even pinpoint the exact moment in which I turned against bees.

I was seven years old, and one of my favourite things to do when I was a kid was walk around barefoot.  I was the boy who absolutely hated wearing shoes and socks around the house.  You'd think that I would have learned my lesson when I walked around our backyard in bare feet when our backyard had an infestation of prickly thistle bushes.  Take it from me, those things hurt!

Well, one thing I did when I was younger was I used to leave the door wide open whenever I went outside.  And this meant that the possibility of ants, caterpillars, and bees could get inside the house.

Sure enough, as I walked inside the house in my bare feet, I didn't realize that a bee was hiding underneath a magazine that was left on the floor, and stung me in between the toes.  A spot that I definitely don't recommend getting stung in at all!

Needless to say, that painful experience taught me just how powerful a bee sting was.  And, well, it made me want to launch a campaign against the killer bees of the world.  I ran away from bees whenever I saw them when I was younger, and when I was older, I had the idea that a dead bee was the only good kind of bee.

Of course, this was when I was young and stupid.  Now that I'm old and wise, I feel guilty about my hatred of bees...especially now that I've learned some truths since that stinging incident some twenty-five years ago.

First, bees only sting when they feel threatened.  If you leave them alone, or lightly swat them away, they'll likely not even so much as bother you.  Second, bees do a lot for the environment.  Their pollen gathering abilities help supply the fertilization needed for fruits and vegetables to grow and mature for consumption.  Without bees, there would be no fresh food.  And without any fresh food, well...we'd quickly become an endangered species.

And thirdly, that bee that stung me was more than likely a wasp...the bee's bigger bully cousin which stings you no matter what you do or don't do.  So, let me reiterate.  Bees=good.  Wasps=need to die a slow, painful death.  The jury's still out on hornets, but if they're anything like wasps, they can disappear too.

The truth is that for several years now, bees have been dying out in massive numbers, leading to higher costs for fruits, vegetables, and even honey!  And as someone who once listed Honey Comb cereal as one of his favourite cereals (which at 33 I still eat, thank you very much), I couldn't imagine a world without any of those things.  Nobody knows what the cause of the mass bee deaths are.  Some say it could be disease.  Some say it could be climate change.  Some blame Monsanto.  Whatever the case, I hope that the bee population can be protected and that somehow, bees can find a way to reproduce and continue to do the things that they do to make the world a better place.

So, in celebration of bees everywhere, why don't I feature a movie that features bees in a positive manner.  One that makes heroes out of those wonderful honey makers themselves!

Yep.  I'm talking about Bee Movie.  The DreamWorks Animation film which was directed by Simon J. Smith and Steve Heckner was released on November 2, 2007, and featured the voices of Jerry Seinfeld, Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, John Goodman, and Chris Rock.  Seinfeld also served as a writer and producer of the film.  Though the film was given mixed reviews, it did make over $280 million at the box office, making Bee Movie another success for DreamWorks.

This movie was admittedly a lot of fun to watch, and if you ever wondered what it would be like if bees could talk and show you into their world, this movie does offer one possibility.  Of course, as we well know, the only sound you hear from a beehive is a lot of buzzing, and the only thing you might see inside of a beehive are intricately shaped honeycombs that are filled with sweet, delicious honey.

But in Bee Movie, we're quickly introduced to a teenage bee named Barry B. Benson (Seinfeld).  He's buzzing with excitement (pardon the pun) over his upcoming college graduation (class of 9:15), and he and his best friend Adam Flayman (Broderick) are really looking forward to life after school.  After all, the future for Barry is looking extremely bright.  With college underway, all Barry wants to do is spend the rest of his life doing what he wants to do.

Unfortunately, fate had a different plan for Barry.  You see, upon graduating college, it was expected for every single bee to choose a career - similar to anybody who graduates from a college or a university.  That was fine.  What wasn't fine was the rule that stated that once a bee chose a job, they were stuck with it until they died.  Certainly not a easy thing to accept - especially in a world where some people have two or more careers.

And Barry, as the eternal non-conformist, decides that choosing a career for life simply isn't enough for him.  He'd rather spend his time hanging around the group known as the "Pollen Jocks", a group of athletic bees that spend their days gathering pollen from the many flowers blooming around the world.  On one such day, he observes the Pollen Jocks collecting nectar and he is so fascinated by it that he decides that he wants to do it too...that is until he becomes an unwilling participant in a tennis game, and somehow finds himself invading the confines of a family car.  Barry's initial reaction?  Humans are nuts and should be avoided...which made perfect sense, since one of the rules of the bee world is never to talk to a human.

But something happens as Barry tries to make his way back home.  Somehow he gets trapped inside of a flower shop and when the patrons of the shop trying to kill Barry, the owner of the flower shop, Vanessa Bloome (Zellweger) rescues Barry and sends him outside to safety.  Barry, touched by Vanessa's kindness, flies back in to thank Vanessa for saving him, and the two of them form a friendship despite the cardinal rule that bees and humans must never communicate with each other.

Meanwhile, Barry discovers a sad truth when he and Vanessa go into a grocery store.  Barry is shocked to see humans buying huge jars of honey for consumption, and he hitches a ride to Honey Farms to discover the truth behind how the company got their hands on so much of their honey.  He meets up with a mosquito named Mooseblood (Rock) who fills him in on how humans have always swatted mosquitoes, and this sets the gears in motion for Barry to pursue his true calling - that calling is to launch a lawsuit against humans for stealing their honey!  Add in a sleazy lawyer (Goodman), and you have one honey of a trial.  And when it is all done and over with, the outcome could cause some irreversible damage to the world's food supply.

With help from Vanessa and Adam, Barry decides that he must right the wrong he caused, and works out a plan to restore the delicate balance of the world between bee and human.  And, here's a bit of a hint.  The Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California plays a huge part in that.

Now, I can't really reveal the ending of Bee Movie because I don't want to spoil it for you all.  But what I can tell you is that after watching this movie, I tend to look at bees a lot differently.  No longer do I see bees as these horrible flying beasts who only want to hurt us.  No, they're wonderful creatures who help make the world a better place, and I definitely salute them in the quest to continue making delicious foods.

Although my opinion on wasps has not changed.  They wouldn't be missed if they disappeared.

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