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.
There's a quiet charm to The Secret Life of Bees, a family movie that dares to tackle some serious subjects along the way. It's feel-good most of the time, feel-bad some of the time, and well made throughout.
Nothing wrong with a weeper, as long as it earns its tears honestly. Bees does for the most part, largely through performances that rise above the sometimes too-pat material to convey -- and elicit -- real emotion.
Chugs along pleasantly like a television special tailored for the crossover female market. Which is basically what it is, though it drops tantalizing hints that it has more on its mind than a benign tale of substitute mothering across the color line.