"Maya the Bee Movie," an Australian-German animated children's film directed by Alexs Stadermann, is talky, relentlessly affirming and as predictable as a paint-by-number.
In Waldemar Bonsels' 1922 children's book "The Adventures of Maya the Bee," the title character is a curious young bee who leaves the hive to explore nearby gardens and returns home to help fight off a raid by murderous hornets. The animated Maya (voiced by Coco Jack Gillies) is a spunky motormouth who gets thrown out of the hive by nasty Buzzlina (Jacki Weaver), who's scheming to kill the queen (Miriam Margolyes) and grab the throne.
Once outside, Maya turns into a sort of Dorothy Gale who acquires friends eager to help her, especially nerdy bee Willy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Flip the Grasshopper (Richard Roxburgh). Although Maya and Willy have been warned to beware of nasty hornets, they befriend Sting (Joel Franco), the son of boss hornet Hank (Andy McPhee), who's been warned to beware of nasty bees.
The ending becomes so obvious, anyone older than 8 might as well head to the lobby and read texts while Maya prevents an interspecies war, saves the queen, learns the wisdom of always being herself and dances at a party.
"Maya the Bee" embodies the kind of self-consciously uplifting treacle some adults insist kids want. They package "Maya" like honey, but it tastes like medicine.
"Maya the Bee Movie."
MPAA rating: G.
Running time: 1 hour, 19 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.