Maya the Bee review: A sweet little tale with no sting
Based on the German children's book by Waldemar Bonsels, Maya The Bee is a cutesy, inoffensive romp for preschoolers, who have grown up with Dora The Explorer and her animated kin. Alexs Stadermann's film has a lively vocal cast and a palette of retina-searing primary colours that should prevent parents buzzing off for a cheeky power nap.
The quality of the animation is basic and the script follows a linear path as the eponymous protagonist shows her winged brethren that different species can live in harmony if they just open their hearts to each other.
Sentimentality, as sticky and sweet as the honey gathered by Maya's swarm, drips from every frame. Older audiences, hoping for some of the artistry and sophistication of A Bug's Life, Antz or Bee Movie, will be sorely disappointed.
Fin Edquist and Marcus Sauermann's script trades heavily in insect puns for chuckles but does unexpectedly manage one belly laugh with some clever wordplay involving a platoon of marching ants.
Busy Bee 396 - or Maya (voiced by Coco Jack Gillies) as she is christened - bursts into the world and excitedly savours every sight of the hive. She begins to explore but some of her escapades incur the wrath of royal adviser Buzzlina Von Beena (Jacki Weaver), who's on a mission to steal the royal jelly that keeps the Queen (Miriam Margoyles) on the throne. A chance encounter between the monarch and Maya sets the young stinger on her path to adventure.
Maya The Bee doesn't outstay its welcome at 88 minutes and solid vocal performances from the cast, particularly nine-year-old Gillies, keeps the film airborne when dialogue falls flat.