Box art for The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees

drama


A drama, set in Southern U.S. in 1960's, revolving around teenager Lily Owens (Fanning) and her nanny, Rosaleen (Hudson), who flee their hometown to escape their harsh upbringing and uncover the mysteries of Lily's late mother.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    58%
  • Audience Score
    78%

common sense

ON for kids age 13
Consumerism
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
Language
2 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Sex
1 out of 5
Violence
3 out of 5

1960s-set family drama tackles weighty issues.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this emotional, 1960s-set drama includes multiple scenes of a man reacting violently toward his wife and daughter. The child witnesses her father's assault on her mother (resulting in off-camera gunshots and death); as a young teen, the same child is the victim of heartless physical and mental punishment. The unexpected discovery of a beloved character's dead body is intense and may be disturbing to some young viewers. African-American characters suffer at the hands of prejudiced white Southerners in many scenes. Racial hatred is illustrated by ugly name-calling (including use of the "N" word) and two beatings. But in spite of all of the above, the filmmakers don't exploit or maximize the action. They show only as much as necessary to provide the desired impact.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. More than 40 years have passed since the events in the film took place. How have racial politics changed? How haven't they? Families can also discuss what Lily was looking for when she left home. Why did she take Rosaleen with her? How did Lily's innocent acceptance of her African-American friends get them in trouble? Do the filmmakers show that Lily's father learned a lesson? Parents and teens who've read the book the movie is based on can compare and contrast the two. Which do you like better? Why?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: The Secret Life of Bees is a deeply felt, well-intentioned film about race and reverence in the summer of '64. Like the ambrosia at the center of the plot, it moves slowly and tastes sweet.

- Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle, Friday, October 17, 2008

Fresh: A dense story about a little girl and the impact her mother's death has on her makes terrific cinema in this beautifully realised film

- Andrew L. Urban, Urban Cinefile, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rotten: What's being sold here is the movie equivalent of the honey-drenched sweet potato biscuits that are forever being passed around on-screen. Their nutritional value may be nil, but they sure look comforting.

- Carina Chocano, Los Angeles Times, Friday, October 17, 2008

Audience Reviews

4 stars

"The Sweet Life of Bees is a film of sad stories with sad situations. I really enjoyed everyones acting. I had my doubts about Alicia Keys as I do all singers/rappers when they try their hand at acting. She surprised me. I thought she did a great job in her role. I loved Q-Latifah in this. Her character is wise and loving. Just what Lily needed. Lily Owens is a troubled young girl in the search for answers about her mother. Feeling unwanted and abandoned she runs with the one person that shows her kindness and love. Her nanny/housekeeper Rosaleen. Their journey leads to August. From there the mystery of what happened to Lily's mother unravels. I really enjoyed the sad tale and I look forward to reading the book."

- LWOODS04, Monday, October 15, 2012

4 stars

"The Sweet Life of Bees is a film of sad stories with sad situations. I really enjoyed everyones acting. I had my doubts about Alicia Keys as I do all singers/rappers when they try their hand at acting. She surprised me. I thought she did a great job in her role. I loved Q-Latifah in this. Her character is wise and loving. Just what Lily needed. Lily Owens is a troubled young girl in the search for answers about her mother. Feeling unwanted and abandoned she runs with the one person that shows her kindness and love. Her nanny/housekeeper Rosaleen. Their journey leads to August. From there the mystery of what happened to Lily's mother unravels. I really enjoyed the sad tale and I look forward to reading the book."

- LWOODS04, Monday, October 15, 2012

2 stars

When you come across a film poster flaunting a smile across every included face, there's a 98% chance it's another "feel-good" flick about to hit cinemas. Save for a few exceptions that have backed away from the tiresome archetypes (i.e. JERRY MAGUIRE, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE), rarely is this a good sign. I often feel worried that the film's crew thinks its key audience is full of idiots who cannot even mildly identify the recurring thematic formula: identify the problem in the story, gradually evolve from saddening to joyful, relieve the audience's emotions with a scene that will guarantee a good cry, then all of a sudden end on a severely optimistic note. THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES is a film harrowed in majority not because it plays out as such a film, but because it offers nothing new, or nothing noticeably original, for that matter. The film isn't terrible, due to some select bright spots and a solid performance from Queen Latifah-may I add that this gets my vote for her best performance since CHICAGO. Aside from those who watch films for that ultimate catharsis, it's not particularly engaging. read the rest of the review at themoviefreakblog.com

- spielberg00, Tuesday, August 21, 2012