Graduating from college in three days might seem like an awesome accomplishment---unless you're a bee with a condensed life cycle. Fresh from commencement exercises, Barry B. Benson (voice by Jerry Seinfeld) and his pal Adam Flyman (voice by Matthew Broderick) are introduced to the inner workings of the hive where each alumna gets a chance to pick his or her job in the honey factory.
Yet the thought of settling in for a lifetime of stirring honey, like his father (voice by Barry Levinson), seems overwhelming to Barry. So when the adventurous graduate gets a chance to form ranks with the pollen jocks and take a trip outside the hive, he's more than willing to go. It's there, in the big, broad world, that Barry makes two important discoveries. First he meets Vanessa (voice by Renee Zellweger), a gentle florist who saves him from an untimely death on the bottom of a boot. Secondly, he discovers that humans have been stealing honey from the little bumbling creatures and profiting from its sale.
Having already broken the insects' cardinal rule---never talk to humans---Barry abandons all bug protocol and, with Vanessa's help, decides to sue the whole human race for its injustices against the honeybee. It's an engaging and rollicking journey as Barry and his defense team takes on the high-powered lawyers of the food producers. However, the court case proves to have drawbacks for the hardworking members of the colony as well as the rest of mankind.
Dripping with cameo appearances from personalities like Sting, Ray Liotta and Larry King, the script is humming with parodies and humor for teens and adults. And while many of the veiled sexual jokes and obscure references to drug use will hover over the heads of younger audiences members, some may find the cartoon violence to be disturbing. One startling moment happens when a woman, believing she is dreaming, stabs herself in the hand with a fork. Later she considers forming a suicide pact with another unhappy member of society. Along with moments of peril for the bees, a Winnie-the-Pooh-like character is shot in the neck with a tranquilizer gun and a S.W.A.T. team assaults an old woman. Some brief moments of name-calling and a few irreverent religious comments are also included.
Still, the film comes with sweet messages about good work ethics and a purposeful life. From an environmental bent, the movie stresses the important but often unseen connection between humans and other creatures in the world. It also reminds viewers that there are often unanticipated consequences for choices.
Fortunately with all the laughs, these messages go down as smooth as honey. But parents, who want to avoid getting stung, need to "bee ware" some aspects of this animated hive may be unsuitable for those still in the larvae stage.