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Dreamworks Animation
Jerry Seinfeld behind the scenes for "Bee Movie."

Jerry Seinfeld isn't above making a bad pun to make a point. Take, for example, his new film, the computer-animated comedy "Bee Movie."

Seinfeld talked very optimistically about the project, even joking that the film has "buzz," a term used in the entertainment industry to indicate positive pre-release reactions. Get it? Bees? Buzz?

In typical Seinfeld fashion, he paused for dramatic effect, as if waiting for a "rim shot" or audience reaction — or maybe for the laugh track to kick in.

"All right, maybe that wasn't the best joke I've ever made. But you'll have to forgive me, it's been a while, so I'm a little rusty at this," he said, referring to both his prowess as an interview subject and a stand-up comedian.

Seinfeld co-wrote and produced "Bee Movie," and he's acting as pitchman for the film as well, which includes doing pre-release interviews. Speaking by phone from New York City, the 53-year-old comedian joked that the movie's title — a pun on the term "B-movie" — is him and the filmmakers "simply being honest."

"If (it) completely tanks, at least we were honest in our advertising," he said with a laugh.

Seinfeld also stars as the voice of the main character, Barry B. Benson, a talking insect who befriends a human florist named Vanessa Bloome (Renee Zellweger). When he's angered that humans are using honey, and believes they are exploiting the hard-working bees that create it, Barry decides to sue mankind on behalf of his fellow six-legged brethren.

"I could lie and say it's a multilayered satire that spoofs the way corporate America exploits its workers," Seinfeld said, "but it's just a crazy little comedy."

For many of his fans, the movie is long overdue. Seinfeld retired his popular, self-titled sitcom in 1998 and has been resting on his laurels ever since. "There comes a time when you actually get to enjoy all the fruits of your labors. I didn't want people to get tired of me, so I went away for a while."

He also got married — in 1999 to the former Jessica Sklar — and is now the father of three children: Sascha, Julian and Shepherd.

That change in status was one of the reasons he decided to make "Bee Movie." "I was thinking it would be nice to have something my children could see and not have to cover their ears and eyes because of some of the material and references."

The film reunites him with several "Seinfeld" alumni, including co-screenwriters Spike Feresten and Andy Robin, his co-star Michael Richards, and comic actors Patrick Warburton, Carol Leifer and Larry Miller, who also had roles on the series.

In addition to Seinfeld and Zellweger, "Bee Movie" also stars the voices of Matthew Broderick, John Goodman and Chris Rock, with guest voices including Sting, Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and Ray Liotta (who serves as the butt of a product-placement gag).

"They're all good, talented people, and it's always a pleasure to work with people who appreciate what you do," Seinfeld said in a rare serious moment. "I had to work my tail off just to keep up with them."

Perhaps that explains why he has been so tireless in his promotional efforts. He even appeared in a full-size bee costume at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival to promote "Bee Movie" — and flew in, with the aid of cables. "These days you have to do what you can to help your movie succeed.

"If I thought it would help make the movie a success, I'd stand outside every theater in the country in that costume, as embarrassing and uncomfortable as it is. Of course, it would be physically impossible for me to do that, but still, if I could, I would."

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com