The Secret Life of Bees - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Secret Life of Bees Reviews

Top Critic
Melissa Anderson
Time Out
November 17, 2011
| Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Wally Hammond
Time Out
December 5, 2008
There's a purity, clarity and honesty to this feminist heart-warmer's melodramatic instincts that make it surprisingly moving and satisfying.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/6
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
October 23, 2008
The filmmakers give Latifah and Fanning room to create characters that breathe in the sweet smell of clover and breathe out the contented sigh of independence.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Jessica Reaves
Chicago Tribune
October 20, 2008
Sweat and good intentions, however, will take you only so far. And they take Bees right up to the threshold of entertaining%u2014but not one step further.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
October 20, 2008
The honey runs thick in The Secret Life of Bees, and so does the treacle.
Full Review | Original Score: C-
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Dana Stevens
Slate
October 17, 2008
It's hard to roll your eyes when they're full of tears.
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Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
October 17, 2008
The film is full of sweet, subtle touches.
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Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post
October 17, 2008
Through it all, Fanning more than keeps up with the big girls.
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
October 17, 2008
Those who were moved by the book are likely to find this adaptation affecting and emotionally satisfying.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Susan Walker
Toronto Star
October 17, 2008
Quite a bit of honey is applied to make the awful truths palatable, but The Secret Life of Bees curtails the sappiness with performances -- especially Fanning's -- that are grounded in reality.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
October 17, 2008
Okonedo is at times heartbreakingly good as May, who carries a deep well of pain inside her; Keys is nicely fiery as June, who takes time to warm up to the visitors.
| Original Score: 3/4
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Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
October 17, 2008
Prince-Bythewood makes you care about the characters and hope they live happily ever after.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Tasha Robinson
AV Club
October 17, 2008
It's unabashedly soft and sentimental, in its soft-pedaled tragedies as well as its uplift.
| Original Score: B-
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
October 17, 2008
Price-Bythewood has encouraged fairly broad performances from these formidable actresses for characters who aren't terribly well developed in her script.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News
October 17, 2008
As for Fanning, she continues to prove herself a natural who can handle anything thrown her way. It's worth wondering, though, if she should have to.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
October 17, 2008
A wonderful film about family, independence and the transcendent power of love, The Secret Life of Bees brims with honest emotion without spilling over into cheap sentimentality.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
October 17, 2008
This is woefully familiar material, and Prince-Bythewood overdirects the film, draining it of the messiness of real life in favor of a syrupy sweetness that threatens to drown you.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Carina Chocano
Los Angeles Times
October 17, 2008
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
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Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
October 17, 2008
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
October 17, 2008
None of this, as you might guess, is shot through a glass darkly.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
October 17, 2008
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.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
October 17, 2008
The Secret Life of Bees maintains a smartly calibrated balance between the personal and the historic, between nature and culture.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
October 17, 2008
The Secret Life of Bees insists so strenuously on its themes of redemption, tolerance, love and healing that it winds up defeating itself.
| Original Score: 2/5
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Andrea Gronvall
Chicago Reader
October 17, 2008
Jennifer Hudson adds some grit to a project that might have worked better as a Hallmark TV special.
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Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
October 17, 2008
Prince-Bythewood demonstrates a lovely gift for capturing the unsaid.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
October 16, 2008
Latifah is, as always, pure pleasure to watch.
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
October 16, 2008
As a realistic portrayal of life in rural South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees is dreaming. As a parable of hope and love, it is enchanting.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
October 16, 2008
It's hard to imagine that The Secret Life of Bees won't be part of many Oscar conversations. It has the intelligence, craftsmanship, and heart to win over both critics and regular movie-goers.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
October 16, 2008
Is the sweetness worth the stickiness in this maudlin American Sisterhood of the Traveling Green Tomatoes?
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
October 16, 2008
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
October 16, 2008
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.
Top Critic
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
October 15, 2008
Isn't it time that Hollywood took a sabbatical -- maybe a permanent one -- from movies in which black characters exist primarily to save the souls of white ones?
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Michael Rechtshaffen
Hollywood Reporter
September 16, 2008
An affecting ensemble piece that's destined to generate a fair share of awards-season buzz.
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John Anderson
Variety
September 8, 2008
Like a mouthful of honey, The Secret Life of Bees is cloyingly sweet and gooey, and you're not quite sure you can swallow it undiluted.