2005
Rated: PG for mild language.
Genre: Drama
Directed By: David Siegel, Scott McGehee
Running Time: 1:44
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 12/22/06
Special Features:
Behind the Scenes - Cutting Room Floor Featurette
Featurette - "The Essence of BEE SEASON"
Trailers - Theatrical Trailer
Disc 1/Side B: BEE SEASON - Widescreen Version
Widescreen - 2.35
Audio Commentary - 1. Scott McGehee, David Siegel - Directors
2. Albert Berger - Producer, Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal - Screenwriter
Behind the Scenes - Making of Featurette
Deleted Scenes - Optional Commentary by Scott McGehee, David Siegel - Directors
BEE SEASON

 

I enjoyed Max Minghella's performance as the prodigal son who realizes he's being molded into something he can't live up to and decides to rebel. Minghella is very good in his role as the protective older brother of Eliza, and he's a highlight. I also enjoyed the dimensions behind Gere's character Saul, this man who needs to control his environment to feel comfort, and safety, but realizes he just can't accomplish it.

After watching “Akeelah and the Bee” and being genuinely bowled over by how utterly fantastic it was, I couldn’t imagine anything being up to its level in terms of character, and approach. “Bee Season” is an utterly self-defeating film that takes itself way too seriously, and attempts to pad the entire story with utterly nonsensical sub-plots that meander from its original premise, which is to watch the story of a young girl who has the ability to pull words from the air and spell. What happened to the plot only forty-five minutes in? Damned if I know. Gehee and Siegel take a mystical approach to spelling, almost as if the character of Eliza is receiving these words from a supernatural source.

I utterly hate this attempt at originality and innovation. “Bee Season” takes an artsy fartsy approach to spelling, by undermining the abilities of those who can spell, and then attempting to add a quasi-religious quasi-mystical spin completely disregarding the skill and masterful discipline it takes to spell. The directors have no clue what the word simplistic means, and that’s a shame. On its own without the constant sub-plots, “Bee Season” could have been a very intriguing piece of drama, but alas, it gets lost in its own hubris.  

When it’s not attempting to build a precedent by showing Eliza forming the words in thin air a la CGI, we’re pulled into all sorts of predictable story twists. Saul becomes obsessed with his daughter’s abilities and neglects his son. Didn’t see that coming. He uses her victory as a form of safety in his life. Amazing. Every single plot twist present in this pure malarkey comes off flat; even the son discovering Buddhism as a form of implicit rebellion to his father. In this day and age does changing your religious preference still cause such a stir in parents? “Bee Season” begins as genuinely charming, then becomes sappy and scattered with separated sub plots that never bind in one direction heading for a cohesive plot.

Flora Cross has no life, or charm as Eliza, and her attempts at emotion come off as brutally forced. Her character Eliza has no dimensions, and she’s hardly as likable as the audience would wish. I’m never a fan of religious propaganda in a film that doesn’t apply to it, so I didn’t enjoy the Buddhist introduction, which was an obvious facet insisted upon by Gere. We get the point of the Buddhist worship by Saul’s son, but why cram it down our throats so much? “Bee Season” results in a car crash of meandering, sentimentality, and taking a concept much too seriously.

I checked out mentally about forty-five minutes into this once it stopped revolving around about spelling bees… which was its plot. For shame. Give me "Akeelah and the Bee" over this any time.

 

 

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