Jerry Seinfeld Apologizes for ‘Sexual Undertones’ in Bee Movie, but Says He ‘Would Not Change It’

Jerry Seinfeld jokingly apologized for the “sexual undertones” in 2007’s Bee Movie while giving a commencement speech at Duke University.

The comedian caused quite a buzz with his speech at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, as he acknowledged the controversy that swarms his 2007 animated family comedy Bee Movie. He admitted there may have been some “sexual undertones” in the film, but on reflection, he would not alter it.

“I may not have calibrated that perfectly, but I would not change it.

“I made a cartoon movie about bees you may have watched as a child,” Seinfeld said during his speech, which was uploaded to YouTube (11:59). “If any of you felt slightly uncomfortable about the sexual undertones in the relationship between Barry the bee and Vanessa, the florist who saves his life, I would like to apologize for that now.

“I may not have calibrated that perfectly, but I would not change it,” he continued as he stressed the importance of humor to the crowd of graduating seniors. “The slightly uncomfortable feeling of awkward humor is OK. It’s not something you need to fix… Not a lot of life makes sense for you to be able to survive it without humor.”

Bee Movie received mixed reviews from critics and pulled in disappointing numbers at the box office when it hit theaters in 2007. However, social media reactions have taken some of the sting out of its initial reception as people have continued to joke about the relationship between Barry, the bee, and Vanessa, a human character.

Seinfeld referenced this discourse during an appearance on The Tonight Show in 2021, telling Jimmy Fallon that the movie’s romantic undertones were not a deliberate addition to the script. He said he only realized afterwards that the DreamWorks Animation film was “not appropriate for children” despite being its target audience.

“I apologize for what seems to be a certain uncomfortable subtle sexual aspect of the Bee Movie,” he said. “[It] really was not intentional, but after it came out, I realized this is really not appropriate for children. Because the bee seems to have a thing for the girl, and we don’t really want to pursue that as an idea in children’s entertainment.”

Bee Movie was up for Best Animated Feature Film at the 65th Golden Globe Awards but lost out to Disney Pixar Animation’s Ratatouille.

Photo by Noam Galai/GC Images.

Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance entertainment writer for IGN. You can follow her on X/Twitter @AdeleAnkers.


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