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'Bee Movie': Will Kids Buzz?

Jerry Seinfeld's animated feature is well suited to home video, where young viewers can speed past slow parts. Plus: a hot 'fire engine' book for tykes, a lush CD of lullabies, and Nick's new 'H2O' series

BEE MOVIE Seinfeld's yakky quips feel right at home on TV — and the DVD extras will make busy bees of kid viewers
Image credit: DreamWorks Animation L.L.C.
BEE MOVIE Seinfeld's yakky quips feel right at home on TV — and the DVD extras will make busy bees of kid viewers

'Bee Movie' on DVD: Will kids buzz?

Bee Movie
Voices of Jerry Seinfeld, Renée Zellweger, Chris Rock
(PG, 90 mins., 2007)

For five and a half minutes, Bee Movie really soars. Not long after we meet him, a high-strung drone named Barry B. Benson (voiced, of course, by Jerry Seinfeld) sails out of the hive for the first time. And as he whizzes alongside his fellow bees high above Central Park, straight through a box kite before coasting down along the bike path toward the flowers, we fly along too, the bug's wonderment matched electrically by our own. This marvelous sequence just keeps surging forward, as our hero barrels through a tennis court, a speeding car, and a rainstorm.

The rest of Bee Movie is not nearly so zippy. But, that sequence aside, the whole thing works a lot better on TV than it did in the theater, partly because Seinfeld's yakky quips feel right at home there, and also because children are now free to fast-forward through the long, uninspired trial sequence after Barry sues the honey industry for exploiting the bees. And the numerous extras in this two-disc edition — when not attesting to just how maniacally Seinfeld promoted this thing last fall (he really did 16 of those NBC ''TV Juniors'' ads?) — will transform any kid who can work a remote into an agreeably busy bee. BGregory Kirschling

Clemence and His Noisy Little Fire Engine
by Jessica Spanyol

Toddlers will find much to love in Spanyol's series of colorful, charmingly illustrated little books, which feature an assortment of vehicles — including a van and a race car — all piloted by different bugs. Clemence, who appears to be a fly, drives his fire engine quite poorly. He also spends a considerable amount of time hosing off his friends (it is, after all, a very hot day) and testing his horn and siren. But when a real emergency arises, Clemence knows just what he has to do. ATina Jordan
Recommended ages: 1-5

Down at the Sea Hotel
Various Artists
(CD, The Secret Mountain) Sea Hotel is the rare lullaby album (also sold as a deluxe edition with a book) that can ship a child off to slumberland without putting the parents to sleep. The soothing chantey of a title track, written by Greg Brown, sets the disc off on the right course. Besides heartfelt renditions of family-oriented tunes by Billy Joel, Carole King, and Neil Young, standout cuts include Guy Davis' tender take on Tom Waits' ''Midnight Lullaby'' and Eliza Gilkyson's cozy reading of Nanci Griffith's long-distance love letter ''Midnight in Missoula.'' AMichael Berick
Recommended ages: 2-6

H2O
(Sundays, 7:30 p.m., Nickelodeon)

Banking on kids' continued fascination with clandestine double lives (think: Hannah Montana), Nickelodeon docks this Australian fantasy series about three teenage girls who, when they touch water, spectacularly turn into mermaids with special powers. But the whimsy is grounded in reality: Cleo, Emma, and Rikki are concerned with keeping their secret, while also facing realistic dramas of teen life. The opening theme croons that the girls aren't ''ordinary,'' which ultimately makes them all the more endearing. BTanner Stransky
Recommended ages: Ages 7 and up

SOUNDBITES

''She is crazy about the Jonas Brothers. I think the Wiggles are a little washed-up. The Jonas Brothers are the new face of kid rock.'' —Wayne Brady, dad of Maile, 5

''Andrea Bocelli's 'Amapola' is his favorite. I was driving with him the other day and he started crying. I couldn't turn around to comfort him, but I put the song on and it knocked him right out. It calms him down immediately.'' —Jaime Pressly, mother of Dezi, 10 months

Originally posted Mar 20, 2008
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