“Is it better than Antz?” is an obvious question that will come to mind with the release of A Bug’s Life. For me the answer is easy.
Unlike Antz, which was released just a few months ago, A Bug’s Life is aimed at a larger audience - though, especially aimed at kids. A Bug’s Life has less of Antz’s social-political issues and replaces them with cuteness. Antz was a movie about an ant who was a rebel in the colony; the same is true with A Bug’s Life. That’s where the similarities end.
Flik (Dave Foley of “News Radio”) is a rebel in the ant colony. He has many brilliant ideas that are cast aside by the colony - including a machine that would help ease the harvest. The harvest is a grueling ordeal for the colony because they have to do it twice a year. Once to feed the invading grasshoppers led by Hopper (Kevin Spacey) and another time to feed the colony. This year Flik accidentally knocks over the pile of grain for the grasshoppers and all is lost. Hopper arrives and gives the Queen (Phyllis Diller) one more chance to get the harvest done. Princess Atta (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and a council decide to send Flik off under the pretenses of finding warrior bugs to help battle off the returning grasshoppers.
What Flik finds is a rag-tag group of circus performers who he mistakes as warrior bugs . These performers include: a stick-like bug, Slim (David Hyde Pierce of “Frasier”); an overly large caterpiller of sorts, Heimlich (Joe Ramft); a black widow spider, Rosie (Bonnie Hunt); and my favourite of them all, a lady bug named Francis (Dennis Leary). Together these circus performers band together with the ant colony and plan to fend off the returning grasshoppers.
The story for A Bug’s Life is simple, as it should be, to keep kids’ attention. There are many jokes that appeal to the kids, but there are also jokes that appeal to adults taking their children to see the film. Pixar has put out a film that will entertain all ages.
This is Pixar’s second venture into making a full length computer animated feature film. Their first was the mega-hit Toy Story. A Bug’s Life has one thing missing that Toy Story, and all other Disney films, have. The missing element is songs during the film. For A Bug’s Life it was a good choice; the flow of the story was never interrupted by singing characters. It does feel funny to see an animated Disney film without songs, but it’s also a refreshing change.
All the voice performers were excellent. I loved Kevin Spacey as Hopper the most. Hopper has four arms and with the animation used to express the personality of Hopper, he is one of the best animated character’s I’ve seen in a long while. Spacey has enough resonance in his voice to make Hopper scary, but not too scary. Kudos to Spacey for a wonderful performance. Dave Foley plays Flik and he does it with flair. Unlike the soft-spoken and self-deprecating Woody Allen as Z in Antz, Foley is alive with the character Flik. Flik is a character that requires a naïve and young sounding voice and Foley provides just that.
The voice that was hilarious and will be overlooked is that of Richard Kind (“Spin City”) who plays Molt, Hopper’s goofy brother. Kind, who is extremely funny in “Spin City,” brings the same type of goofiness to his character and with the brilliance of the animators at Pixar, Molt is a grasshopper-spitting-image of Kind.
There were two semi-non-talking characters, Tuck and Roll, that are just laugh-out-loud funny. They are the “roly-poly” bugs and their mere presence onscreen was enough to make me laugh.
The musical score by Randy Newman (Toy Story) fits the movie like a glove. The score is jazzy and contemporary and goes hand in hand with the action.
As for the computer animation, Pixar has one-upped Pacific Data Images (the people who made Antz). Antz was a film for adults and because of this the film looked somewhat bland with all the colors taken from the real world. This meant that there was a lot of the color brown in the film and there wasn’t really anything eye-catching about that. In A Bug’s Life, directors John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton fill the screen with bright vivid colors. >From the sky blue of the ants to the bright red of Francis, A Bug’s Life screams with color. The one thing that that Antz had over A Bug’s Life was the sheer volume of ants rendered for film. In A Bug’s Life, there are scenes with many ants onscreen, but in Antz there are scenes with the entire colony onscreen - and this sheer volume is overwhelming. But, overall, A Bug’s Life wins in the visual department.
A Bug’s Life is the winner in the battle of the animated ants. I gave Antz a Don’t Miss nod and I’m going to give A Bug’s Life a Don’t Miss nod also - I loved both films, although they are different. Whereas Antz is more deep and exploratory look into society, A Bug’s Life is quirky and hilarious. I just enjoyed A Bug’s Life more with its large audience appeal, offbeat humor, and gorgeous look. This film is destined to be a Disney classic. Don’t Miss A Bug’s Life on the big screen. And don’t leave the theatre when the credits start to roll. If you do, you’ll miss out on the hilarious bloopers reel.
Edited by Cher Johnson.