Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. 88
    Above all, it contains characters I care for, played by actors I admire.
  2. 88
    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.
  3. Soars on the strength of strong acting and a script that stubbornly refuses to go all sappy and preachy.
  4. 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.
  5. Suffused with a golden glow, the movie looks and sounds like a fairy tale.
  6. Reviewed by: Perry Seibert
    The final result is a bittersweet product closer to honey than treacle.
  7. 75
    On screen something happens that goes beyond Monk's powers of description and Fanning's way of seeming 14 and 44 at the same time.
  8. Reviewed by: Priya Jain
    One of the pleasures of the film is that the themes don't hit you over the head.
  9. It warms the heart in the hands of such sensitive storytellers.
  10. It's the strength of the actresses and their nurturing community that makes this Eden so satisfying.
  11. An affecting ensemble piece that's destined to generate a fair share of awards-season buzz.
  12. Keys isn't given much to do except look as though she's posing for an album cover, but Okonedo's face is a marvel. Every thought, every emotion flickers across it like clouds obscuring the sun.
  13. 67
    It's pleasant and often touching, and the well-chosen cast sells what little drama they get, but there's no depth and little affect, and every would-be conflict peters out noncommittally.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Hampered by over-earnestness and tugs too intently at the heartstrings.
  15. 60
    May be overly sentimental at times, but at least it's about something.
  16. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    The Secret Life of Bees may not be a "To Kill a Mockingbird" on page or screen, but Fanning is the center of its soul and intelligence. It's Hollywood's job to find strong parts for this precocious genius as she matures into womanhood.
  17. Reviewed by: Jessica Reaves
    Sweat and good intentions will take you only so far. And they take Bees right up to the threshold of entertaining--but not one step further.
  18. 50
    Emotes mightily but says precious little.
  19. 50
    The Secret Life of Bees showcases Fanning, who is growing into an impressive teenage actress - even if a scene where she licks honey off an older boy's finger is, well, creeptastic.
  20. If you like your sentimentality sweet and sticky, then The Secret Life of Bees is definitely your jar of honey.
  21. Fortunately, the cast cuts through a cloying script and boosts unsure direction with sharply focused performances.
  22. Generally works like a drone but sometimes provides glimpses of the queens at the center
  23. 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.
  24. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Only near the end does this likable but saccharine movie fleetingly complicate the "Gone With the Wind"–fed delusion that the love of poor, black nannies for their white charges was undiluted by bitterness.
  25. 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.
  26. 50
    The film insists so strenuously on its themes of redemption, tolerance, love and healing that it winds up defeating itself, and robbing Ms. Kidd’s already maudlin tale of its melodramatic heat.
  27. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    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.
  28. Thanks to Gina Prince-Blythewood's treacly screenplay and plodding direction, the movie quickly congeals into a mess of sentimental cliches.
  29. Bees is a movie in which a bunch of powerful African American women get their lives upended and in some cases destroyed so a little white girl can feel better about herself.
  30. The honey runs thick in The Secret Life of Bees, and so does the treacle. The cloying dullness sets in early, although not from the first frame.
  31. 40
    Should have billed itself as a fairy tale, as that’s the only possible way to swallow what Prince-Bythewood and Kidd are feeding us.
  32. Reviewed by: Liz Beardsworth
    The source material remains affecting and the cast work hard to add dimension to a lacklustre screenplay. But sadly, it adds up to less than the sum of its parts.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 28 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 8
  2. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. JayH.
    Jan 31, 2009
    Dakota Fanning just doesn't have the acting range to pull off the film. Queen Latifah is terrific though. Rather predictable and overly dramatic, it all seems so familiar. Too slow moving at times. It is a well meaning film, but it is flawed. Full Review »
  2. KenS.
    Jan 2, 2009
    I love films that reach deep into my soul to resurrect emotions that are stiffled by the daily march of stress layden life. This film crushes ones heart. tosses it around, plants it on an alter and then heals it. Full Review »
  3. ShanaK.
    Nov 15, 2008
    The story was well written and well acted. A character driven story where the characters have a lot of depth and the story definitely evokes emotion. Bring kleenex if you cry easily in movies as there were lots of sniffles in the theatre. Full Review »