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The Secret Life of Bees Review Critics


Dave White Profile

sweet and comforting Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    The Secret Life of Bees is a lesson -- or, rather, a whole series of them -- we no longer need to learn. Of course, it's also a divine-sisterhood-defeats-all chick flick, and on that score there's no denying that its clichés are rousingly up to date.

    Read Full Review

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Hampered by over-earnestness and tugs too intently at the heartstrings.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen

    An affecting ensemble piece that's destined to generate a fair share of awards-season buzz.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    The other actress to stand out is, unsurprisingly, Queen Latifa, whose intense screen presence makes her a force to be reckoned with even when she's simply standing in the background, not saying anything.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Above all, it contains characters I care for, played by actors I admire.

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  • See all The Secret Life of Bees reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

1960s-set family drama tackles weighty issues.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this emotional, 1960s-set drama includes multiple scenes of a man reacting violently toward his wife and daughter. The child witnesses her father's assault on her mother (resulting in off-camera gunshots and death); as a young teen, the same child is the victim of heartless physical and mental punishment. The unexpected discovery of a beloved character's dead body is intense and may be disturbing to some young viewers. African-American characters suffer at the hands of prejudiced white Southerners in many scenes. Racial hatred is illustrated by ugly name-calling (including use of the "N" word) and two beatings. But in spite of all of the above, the filmmakers don't exploit or maximize the action. They show only as much as necessary to provide the desired impact.

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. More than 40 years have passed since the events in the film took place. How have racial politics changed? How haven't they? Families can also discuss what Lily was looking for when she left home. Why did she take Rosaleen with her? How did Lily's innocent acceptance of her African-American friends get them in trouble? Do the filmmakers show that Lily's father learned a lesson? Parents and teens who've read the book the movie is based on can compare and contrast the two. Which do you like better? Why?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The ugly nature of racial prejudice is depicted several times. Some white residents of "The South" in 1964 are shown to be inhumane and brutal, their actions based on ignorance and irrational fear. A violent, cruel husband/father ultimately pays the price for his behavior.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: An abusive husband assaults his wife (repeated in flashback), forcefully slaps a teen, and is menacing and threatening in many scenes. Gunshots are fired, resulting in an off-camera death. Racial intimidation results in severe physical beatings of two African-American characters. A dead body is revealed in an intensely emotional scene.

  • sex false1

    Sex: Gentle kissing and embracing between two adults on several occasions; teens share one innocent kiss.

  • language false2

    Language: Fairly minimal mild cursing: "goddammit," "damn it to hell," "bitch," "bust his ass." Multiple uses of racial epithets, including the "N" word, used to humiliate and threaten African-American characters.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Wonder Bread, Coca-Cola.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A father drinks beer in one scene, whiskey in another.