Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bee Movie Is No B-List Affair: Seinfeld Visits Detroit!

I remember watching Seinfeld its first season and being one of two kids at school who thought it was really funny. It seems it took a little bit of time for a show about nothing to really sink in with viewers, and it did. It has become a cultural phenomenon, lasting 9 seasons and being regarded as one of the greatest sitcoms ever. After Seinfeld and the cast decided to call it quits, not much was heard from star Jerry Seinfeld. That's not to say that he dropped off the face of the earth, but it didn't seem that he was at all abusing his star power to get himself high-powered movie deals. He did a long stand-up tour, and even became a father. Now, as trailers for Seinfeld's animated romp Bee Movie are hitting TV and computers, we now know what this comedic genius has been up to for the last four years.

Bee Movie is set to hit multiplexes on November 2, 2007 and Seinfeld and his directors have ben hard at work, touring with footage of the film to promote that upcoming release. Last week Seinfeld, along with directors Simon J. Smith and Steve Hickner came through the eMagine Theatre in Novi, just outside of Detroit. Large groups of fans and reporters gathered alongside the "Red Carpet," which was actually black and yellow in honor of the theme of the film, to catch a glimpse and get in a few interview questions with the filmmakers. Seinfeld even commented that he had picked Detroit himself as, "I've always loved Detroit. I started out doing stand-up here." In fact, Mark Ridley of Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle introduced Seinfeld before the big presentation, but more on that in a moment.

Seinfeld seemed very pleased to talk to both fans and reporters, taking time to sign autographs for fans, and do plugs for local TV stations. When asked about the brilliance of the live-action trailers and whether or not they played into the creative process at all, he merely smiles and says, "No, we always knew those were just a joke." Which is too bad as this reporter thinks our culture might be ripe for some HR Puffnstuff-like puppetry, and guys in suits. But, alas, we will have to settle for Barry B. Benson in animated form only. That's fine by me, though, as this film looks to be a lot of fun.

After the black and yellow carpet happenings we were ushered into a theatre where Seinfeld did a quick intro that involved him doing schtick for the most part, but that's a-okay as comedy is what Seinfeld does, it's what he is. At one point during the day he was asked what sorts of roles he was offered after leaving Seinfeld, and why he hasn't really done much, to which he basically said that he's a stand-up comedian, not an actor. And judging by the success of Seinfeld, and what looks to be a him playing himself as an animated bee, he's made the right choices by playing to his strengths. After doing some schtick about fatherhood, and answering some questions, he introduced a series of videos about the "behind-the-scenes" of Bee Movie, that portray Jerry as a control-hungry tyrant; one in which he yells at a PA for not getting his coffee right, only to find out that very same PA is a Spielberg, which results in the kid leading the production meetings and Jerry bringing him coffee.

In fact, between those live-action trailers and the behind-the-scenes videos, there is this extra world surrounding Bee Movie that add to the fun, and show how much fun the production must have been. After Jerry's presentation, he handed things over to Simon Hickner who then showed about five clips from the film, which all received a great deal of laughs and applause. I don't want to give any spoilers because in total we probably got to see about 35 minutes of the film, and I would hate to ruin any of it as it is just plain fun.

The story of Barry B. Benson is that he ventures into the real world when he finds out that taking a job at Honex means that he is forever making honey and that's it, sort of dead-end job. And so, he leaves the hive, and befriends a human (played by Renee Zellweger) only to discover that humans are stealing the bee's honey and selling it for their own profit. Well, the only thing left for a bee who makes such a discovery, is to sue mankind. There are some great cameos by Sting, which is as clever as you can imagine ... but the highlight in the clips we were shown was, perhaps, Ray Liotta playing himself as some kind of mad honey despot.

Detroit was glad to have this early glimpse of Bee Movie, and its creators were glad to bring it to us. That speaks volumes about the belief in this film, and I can only hope that it shows at the box office.

(Photos by Nicole Lucas)
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