It’s been fifteen years since the world bore witness to comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s magnum opus, The Bee Movie. For people who are unfamiliar—if such people even exist—The Bee Movie is an animated feature film starring Barry B. Benson, a honey bee who dreams of joining the elite class of male bees, the Pollen Jocks. Along the way, he meets and befriends a human woman, Vanessa, and finds his entire world view turned upside down.
Don’t let the 49 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes fool you: this movie is practically perfect. It feels unfair to go after the shortcomings of the film’s political message. The Bee Movie was a trailblazer in the field of environmental justice, teaching young audiences that the earth’s wellbeing relies on the contributions of each and every creature. Some people call the movie “creepy,” primarily because of Barry’s romantic fantasies about Vanessa, which are accompanied by the song “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies. But Wikipedia claims the relationship between Barry B. Benson and Vanessa merely “border[s] on attraction,” rather than being a full-on affair.
Let’s be honest: regardless of its faults, the cultural impact of this movie is unprecedented. The system that organizes bees into careers was clearly the inspiration for Veronica Roth’s Divergent. The twist where Barry realizes that the bees’ honey is being stolen evokes the 2017 cinematic masterpiece Downsizing. The Bee Movie also gave us what might be the greatest pick-up line of all time: “Ya like jazz?”
The more time passes, the harder it is to imagine the impact of The Bee Movie ever waning. According to all known laws of cinematic tradition, a movie consisting partially of a bee-related court drama should not become a classic; this masterpiece, of course, succeeded anyway.