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U.S.A. Popcorn Adventure #31
October 31, 2007

The Bee's Knees

Bee Movie + Honey Tasting

In Bee Movie, a college graduate bee named Barry, realizes he wants more from life than working at the company hive in New York's Central Park. Barry (voiced by Jerry Seinfeld) is impressed with the pollen jocks, a select group of macho bees who get the gals; despite his scrawny shape, he tags along on a dangerous mission to bring home pollen. On his first day, Barry narrowly escapes death when he's rescued by Vanessa, a bee-loving florist (voiced by Renee Zellweger). Vanessa takes him to a supermarket, where Barry discovers that humans are stealing and selling honey, so Barry decides to sue the humans for injustice, adding a little legal sting to the plot. Eventually, the bees win -- yay for the little guy -- but justice is not so sweet when the flowers all over the world begin to die, since the striking bees will no longer pollinate for free. Barry high tails it to California and hijacks a Rose Parade float so that he can bring enough blooms back to New York to save the flowers from extinction. With humor that Seinfeld fans and their little hordes will appreciate, we have a feeling this film will leave its mark on the holiday season.

With all our kids a buzz about the Bee Movie, we decided to stage an after-dinner honey tasting right in our own home. We didn't have to go far afield - trolling at both the local farmers' markets and our our local gourmet grocery produced several intriguing varietals. We ended up with 4 different flavors: black sage, orange blossom, pure lavender and thyme. After dinner one evening, we cut up apples and bite-sized pieces of bread, and then poured each honey into its own small bowl asking everyone to rate their taste of honey. While there was no consensus as to the favorite (split between the mellow orange blossom and the unique lavender), there was a unanimous last (thyme). While a honey tasting may not fit everyone's definition of culture, doing something new and different together as a family always rates high on our sweet meter.

Film Title: Bee Movie
Directed By: Steve Hickner, Simon J. Smith
2007, Rated PG, 90 minutes

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about watching this movie with your family:

  • Why this Film is Worth It: Everyone will laugh along with Jerry Seinfeld in this gentle tale about a bee that gets buzzing mad at the world's injustices and manages to do something about it. With voices by Renee Zellweger, Chris Rock, Matthew Broderick and John Goodman, we found ourselves well-amused. Great for even young children.
  • Red Flags: One little bee stings a human, and they think he's going to die, but this is a funny, mild detail.
  • COOL FACT: Parents will enjoy the offbeat ads that surround the release of the film, such as the HP computer ads, which refer to Jerry Seinfeld's contractual obligations to the product tie-ins.

Our tips for talking to your kids about this film:

  • Cinema Savvy: Jerry Seinfeld has laid low since the end of Seinfeld, and this film represents a big return for him. He always pushes the envelope of expectation (in fact, since his eponymous show finished, he has performed stand-up around the country) and to return in an animated children's movie continues the funny-man's iconoclastic tradition.
  • Backlot Humor: In one of the early trailers for the movie, Seinfeld is portrayed in a huge bee suit, hanging off a set on a Hollywood sound stage. The joke is that he complains to producer Stephen Spielberg that "nobody will buy me as a bee" and Stephen says "why don't you do it in animation". The film's genesis was a word play on "B-Movie" the old term for a low-budget Genre film.


Have a Honey Tasting at Home

Visit the supermarkets, gourmet food shops or on-line retailers for unusual honeys

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom for taking this Popcorn Adventure:

  • What worked for us: It's interesting to learn about different kinds of honey and for kids to realize that one honey can taste totally different than another. Discuss the basics with them (types of flowers, etc.) and then let them loose so they can decide on their own what they like. It's always fun to compare notes after the fact.
  • Honey at local Farmers' Markets: We purchase local varietals at our local Farmers' Market, several of which have other products like lip balm and body creams. Honey and its byproducts make great holiday gifts! Click here to find a farmers market near you.
  • Where to find honey in the store: Whole Foods has plenty of offerings on the shelf and Crate and Barrel has an affordable selection of honeys for a home tasting. Click here to purchase online. The National Honey Board's website Honey Locator is a great tool for finding and ordering unique types of honey as well as local honey.
  • How to Organize a Honey Tasting: Kids seem to love the honey spread on toast or sliced apples. We offered them both (try artisinal bread, cut into smaller pieces). Then, pour each honey (we served four) into different small bowls. Ask each taster to rate the honeys in order of preference and then, compare notes. The kids' reasons why they liked one and not another were much more eloquent than we expected; it seems we have raised a gourmet generation. It was so successful that we plan to taste with a larger group around our Thanksgiving table.

Our City Editors' tips for enjoying this Popcorn Adventure around the USA:
  • Chicago: The SciTech Museum in Aurora, IL recently added a Working Bee Hive Exhibit to their impressive collection of scientific exhibits for kids. Kids can view thousands of worker bees and their queen through a heavy-duty display case as they bring nectar and pollen home to make honey. This exhibit is free with the $8 cost of admission and open Tuesday through Sunday.
  • Houston: Plan a visit to the Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center where you will find an “observation beehive” featured within 275 acres of natural parkland with a variety of micro-habitats.  After witnessing the bees at work, head over to the local Houston Farmers Market to sample some of the bayou city’s best tasting local honey. 
  • San Francisco: Looking for a sweet day trip north of the city? Head to Marshall's Farm in American Canyon for honey tastings or a two-hour tour. Meet the queen bees, sample the golden nectar straight from the hive, participate in a honey and food pairing, and fill your own jar with fresh honey, then sit back for a tasting of up to 25 Marshall's Farm honey varietals. Tastings and the gift shop are open Mondays through Fridays; tours are by reservation on weekends only. 

Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.

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