Getting the buzz on Jerry

CanWest News Service
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When bringing the bee world to the silver screen, its important to know which facts to leave in and which to leave out. Honey, for example, doesnt sound so sweet after a little bit of research.

When bringing the bee world to the silver screen, its important to know which facts to leave in and which to leave out. Honey, for example, doesnt sound so sweet after a little bit of research.

Honey is essentially bee puke, says Simon J. Smith, co-director of The Bee Movie, an animated film starring Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Renee Zellweger. But we didnt think that was a particularly savoury thing to put in the movie.

But Smith, who helmed the film along with Steve Hickner, says a lot of fact-finding went into making sure the fictional land of honeycombs and pollen was grounded in elements of reality.

We did lots of research into how bees make honey, how they work, how they live and how they play - actually they dont really do that, they just work, he says with a stifled chuckle. We looked for what we could use to make the story work, and left out what didnt.

Like honey being bee puke for example. Or the fact the average real bee isnt fluent in English and capable of flirting with a human florist - or that Queen bees dont generally attain their status by running for political office.

The blend of non-fiction and fact is central to The Bee Movie, in which Seinfeld stars as Barry B. Benson, a young bee whose wanderlust takes him into the human world - prompting various eye-openers, both good and bad.

While creating the animated bee universe from scratch, Smith says the films creative team had to walk a fine line between realism and cartoon imagery.

You quickly learn what works for a movie like this. If you go too realistic with Barry the bee or the human world, then it just feels too uncomfortable. A realistic bee talking to a human just doesnt feel right. If hes too insecty, it doesnt feel very nice. We also wanted to make the character lovable and charming.

But if you got too far the other way it becomes too juvenile and doesnt work with Jerrys humour.

The Seinfeldian script - the comedian also served as the films head writer and producer - left a defining mark on the film, Smith says.

As we worked through the movie, Jerry became Barry and it was natural instinct toward Barrys character ... Its like taking a liquid, pouring it into a different glass and having it taste the same ... We wanted to make sure this sounded like a Jerry Seinfeld movie.

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