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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New on Video: Apoidea Adventures in Maya the Bee Movie

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 9:00 AM


Hooray for definite articles! Well, for us schlubs who only speak English, hooray for our only definite article: the. Perhaps owing to its provenance from German children's literature, Alexs Stadermann's Maya the Bee Movie — which, hot on the heels of a limited theatrical run, Shout! Factory is releasing in a Blu-ray / DVD combo pack on May 19 — is one definite article short.

I'm sure there was a good reason that they landed on simply Maya the Bee Movie as the English title, rather than The Maya the Bee Movie or Maya the Bee: The Movie, but I haven't the foggiest idea what it might be. I don't speak German, but it looks to me like its original title, Die Biene Maja - Der Kinofilm, has the proper number of definite articles. Talk about making your grammatical trains run on time, huh?

Anyway, Maya the Bee[: The] Movie is a pleasant animated film about a young bee (Coco Jack Gillies) who ventures beyond the hive and learns that the world is different than she was told in her harshly regimented society. Also, she's not down with the "Do what you're told without question" thing, at all, and makes friends with a hornet, even though she's been taught that hornets are her mortal enemies.

It's aimed toward very young children, of course, but it won't be a slog for parents to watch. There are some scary moments for a G-rated movie, which just goes to show how much overall tone factors into the ratings system, as well as the typical tendency towards scatological humor, including an encounter with a dung beetle that results in Maya getting run over by a giant ball of shit. For that matter, a character comes very close to saying "You are so full of shit," only to be shushed by his companion before he gets to the s-word. Still, though, a G rating. I'm not complainin', just sayin'.

On the other hand, anything that teaches young children a healthy disrespect for the armed forces is all right in my book. The jokes are as old as the hills, but that's only because they still work.

There's a definite sense throughout that it's not an American production, an as mentioned above, it's actually a German film. (Nina Hagen did a voice in the original version, in fact.) It manages to feel German without being scary — this is the culture that invented Shockheaded Peter, after all, half a century before the first Maya the Bee book was published in the 1910s — and there aren't any songs until 45 minutes in.

Maya herself is a strong character who's brave and confident without even having being a princess or other special figure; she's just a little girl who does her own thing. She also has no particular interest in boys, nor does she need to be rescued by them. She's the one doing the rescuing, hells yeah.

A mild rivalry does develop between Maya's fellow bee Willy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and a hornet obviously named Sting (Joel Franco) for her attention, and it raises an important question: is there a German word for a hornet cockblocking a bee? Seems like something the Germans would come up with.
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Sherilyn Connelly


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