Bees don’t dream, bees don’t have fun – bees work hard and do as they’re told. That’s the message coming back from the higher-ups to plucky little busy bee Maya, and she’s having none of it in this colourful animated feature pitched towards the very youngest viewers. So she explores the meadow, making a new friend of a cheery grasshopper and facing up to a maliciously sweet-talking spider. More significantly, she realises that the hornets – the bees’ sworn enemies – aren’t so bad really, a key discovery when it looks like the two sides are about to declare war.
These are all positive and empowering messages for a junior audience, though they’re delivered with rather too much methodical efficiency for the movie to really take off, while the humour lacks the zingy surprise that Pixar or Disney might have brought to it. Still, the Aussie voice cast enjoy themselves (that’s ‘Animal Kingdom’ matriarch Jacki Weaver as the Queen Bee’s scheming adviser Buzzalina), and it’s hard not to smile at the dance number encouraging the hive community to ‘shake, shake, shake your bee-hind!’.