Enchanted (2007) - Pass

Bee Movie (2007) - Pass

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007) - Pass

As I’ve recently noted more than once on this page, 2007 was a particularly weak year for family films. Already 2008 is shaping up to be a better year, between the scary-but-good Spiderwick Chronicles and this week’s Horton Hears a Who, both in theaters.

On the DVD front, alas, the latest family-film offerings come from last year’s lame crop.

Lots of people liked Enchanted, a satiric Disney spoof of its own fairy-tale canon blending animation and live action. The premise, which takes an animated princess named Giselle (Amy Adams) out of fairy-land and drops her into “real-world” New York, is not without charming and comic moments.

Yet “reality” here means that Giselle’s New-York love interest (Patrick Dempsey) is a single divorce lawyer with a young daughter and a girlfriend who doesn’t sleep over due to the daughter. And when Giselle’s fairy-tale Prince Edward (James Marsden) pursues her into the real world, next to her he’s a ridiculous caricature, incompetent, boorish and full of himself. Why is Giselle sweetly charming while Edward’s a buffoon?

Color my wife Suzanne unenchanted with this movie. Her words: “Please, enchant me with a real man.”

Then there’s Bee Movie, an eye-candy junk-food buffet of a computer-animated cartoon with some laugh-out-loud jokes from star Jerry Seinfeld and his co-writers. A dim-witted curiosity, Bee Movie is stuffed with so much inane misinformation about birds and bees — and flowers and trees — that kids watching it will actually lose “facts-of-life” IQ points. Which, for the record, is not a good thing.

In this movie, bees fertilize plants like farmers “fertilize” crops: When the bees stop “fertilizing,” the plants wither and start to die, but when the bees come back, the plants perk up again. I can only read this as the people responsible being a generation too far removed from life on the farm.

Bee Movie depicts macho flyboy “pollen jockey” bees saddling up for flight while adoring female groupies look on. Of course real “pollen jockeys” (i.e., worker bees) are all female, and the drones have no function but to fertilize the queen.

Then there’s the completely bizarre romantic rivalry for the human love interest (Renée Zellweger) between the bee protagonist (Jerry Seinfeld) and her human boyfriend (Patrick Warburton). Yes: It’s a romantic triangle with a bee, a girl and a guy.

Moving right along, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is Walden Media’s latest lackluster adaptation of a popular children’s novel — just without the actual novel this time. Dustin Hoffman turns up the whimsy to play a Willy Wonka-like owner of a magical toy store. It’s the kind of movie that makes you feel the book might be better, if there were one.

Content advisory

Enchanted: Mild innuendo and suggestive references; fairy-tale scariness. Aimed at family audiences. Bee Movie: Mild innuendo. Aimed at family audiences. Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium: A brief discussion about different views of the afterlife, including reincarnation. Inoffensive but underwhelming.