THE BUMBLEBEE FLIES ANYWAY, 1999
Starring: Elijah Wood, Rachael Leigh Cook, Janeane Garofalo, Joseph Perrino
When an amnesiac youth wakes up in a hospital where he's the only one not dying of terminal illness, he tries to piece together the truth of his past. REVIEW:
I really love movies like this where they're a realistic drama with just a touch of sci-fi added to give it that little something special. This movie is not nearly as good as others that have used the glimmer of sci-fi (the most recent example being Woody Allen's new film “Midnight in Paris”), but it was still a nice little gem of a movie that I had never heard of.
Barney Snow wakes up in a hospital, not knowing how he got there or why. In fact, the only things he can seem to remember is his name and some vague memory of a car accident. He makes the assumption that he's in the hospital as a direct result of the car accident and thinks nothing of it... until he starts meeting the other people on the ward: children under the age of 18 who are dying of terminal illnesses.
Barney makes friends with some of the boys on the ward, but there is one who is far too headstrong to become such fast friends: Mazzo. Despite Mazzo's hardness toward Barney, he asks Barney to play host to his twin sister Cassie while she's here. She's come to visit Mazzo, but being headstrong and pig-headed, Mazzo doesn't want her to see him in his current dwindling state and wants Barney to occupy her time.
Barney and Cassie immediately form a friendship that very quickly blossoms into a young romance. Barney becomes determined to get his memory back so he can leave the hospital and be with Cassie in a more “normal” setting.
Barney tries to remember more about the car crash and goes on excursions of the hospital where he finds a secret lab. Memories of himself being in the lab come flashing back to him as the veil of the car crash memories falls. Barney realizes that the car accident is somehow a false memory and goes to Dr. Harriman for answers.
Dr. Harriman admits that there indeed was no car accident- it's a fabricated memory that she and other doctors/scientists implanted in his head. Barney's amnesia is scientifically induced. Barney is part of an experimental procedure called Project Bumblebee. There's an urban legend that a bumblebee is physically incapable of flying due to it's weight to wing power ratio, yet because the bee doesn't know this, it flies anyway. The doctors are using that theory to try and cure Barney of cancer with the idea that if he doesn't know he has cancer then his body will stop producing cancerous cells and he'll be cured. As it turns out, Barney volunteered for the procedure and it seems to have been working... that is until Barney figures out the truth.
Barney is left with a choice: he can either go through the procedure again and again have his memory wiped and replaced and be moved to a new ward so none of his new friends can accidentally cause him to re-learn the truth... or he can go on as things are now, with the memories he has, and hope that it's been enough to keep his illness at bay.
“The Bumblebee Flies Anyway” is a unique film. It's one of those movies that nobody's ever heard of, despite the fact that it stars pretty big names (Elijah Wood was only doing small projects at the time as this was pre-LOTRs, but Rachael Leigh Cook was fresh off the premiere of “She's All That”). I happened to stumble upon this title one day while browsing through the streaming titles on Netflix. I watched this the day before it's streaming status expired. Now, the movie doesn't even show up in a Netflix search... as if it never had been there to begin with. Odd.
The principal cast does a nice job in this film. It's not Oscar worthy by any stretch, but still on par with most of the other performances these actors have given. The supporting cast played well of the lead roles and really fleshed out the film.
The music in this movie is also above par, inducing emotions in much the same way Barney's memories were induced.
There were a few moments of supreme cheesiness however, such as a scene/shot near the end of the film that suggests a certain character flies away (no, it's not the main character. If it were, I would not give this movie anywhere near as much praise). That was really the only “unforgivable” cheesy scene, but it was not the only cheddar-scented scene in the film.
“The Bumblebee Flies Anyway” isn't perfect, it's got moments that make you want to face palm, and there are times when the dialogues seems off somehow.... but the music, performances, and unique story balance it all out. If you can find this movie, check it out... but that seems to be a big “IF”.
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