Film Review: Queen Bees

STUDIO: Gravitas Ventures/Universal | DIRECTOR: Michael Lembeck | CAST: Ellen Burstyn, James Caan, Ann-Margret, Jane Curtin, Christopher Lloyd, Loretta Devine, Elizabeth Mitchell, French Stewart
RELEASE DATE: June 11, 2021
SPECS: PG-13 | 100 min. | Comedy drama

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  1/2

The new golden years comedy Queen Bees about the Mean Girls maneuverings that unspool in a senior’s home, is a middling affair that lacks the material and strength to let its star-studded ensemble strut their stuff.

Helen (Ellen Burstyn, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) is a strong-willed, independent and slightly absent-minded octogenarian who, after accidentally burning down her kitchen, agrees to temporarily move into the Pine Grove Senior Community. Upon arriving, she is immediately put off by the never-ending warm welcomes, cheesy activities and high school-esque cliques led by “queen bees” Janet (Jane Curtin, TV’s Kate & Allie), Margot (Ann-Margret, Carnal Knowledge) and Sally (Loretta Devine, TV’s Grey’s Anatomy) who won’t let her sit at the cool ladies table. As Helen tries to navigate the rough waters of aqua aerobics, the film shifts into romantic comedy mode when new resident Dan (James Caan, Thief) moves in and starts to woo her.

Based on a story by Harrison Powell, Queen Bees’ director Michael Lembeck (Tooth Fairy) and writer Donald Martin (Isabelle) don’t give their all-star cast much to do here, settling for trite setups and generic jokes. It’s like sending the Yankees to play in a little league game! Lembeck and Martin don’t fully lean into the “mean girls but with medical alert bracelets” setup the film markets itself to be, which is unfortunate because it’s a premise that could be ripe for satire and genuine comedy.

Burstyn and her female cohorts are queens of their craft, but even their illustrious talents can’t elevate a dull script. And Caan, formidable actor though he may be, seems out of place, draining the energy out of each scene he is in. Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future) and French Stewart (TV’s 3rd Rock From The Sun), who play the resident Lothario and the center’s director, respectively, are always welcome but underutilized.

Although it is always enjoyable to spend time with a quality cast, Queen Bees leaves a sting of disappointment.

Watch Queen Bees

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at