Dave and Rachel's movie reviews.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Bug's Life

Year: 1998
Running time: 95 minutes
Certificate: U
Language: English
Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Don McEnery, Bob Shaw
Directors: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton
Starring (voices): Dave Foley, Kevin Spacey, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Hayden Panettiere, Phyllis Diller, Richard Kind, David Hyde Pierce, Joe Ranft, Denis Leary, Jonathan Harris, Madeline Kahn, Bonnie Hunt, Michael McShane, John Ratzenberger, Brad Garrett

Now that's the look of an ant that's done something stupid.
Along with Cars, its sequel and more recently The Good Dinosaur, A Bug’s Life is generally considered one of Pixar’s least impressive releases to date. Of course, it is Pixar, so that means little, and it still tells a quality story full of great characters brought to life by bright and beautiful animation and a superb cast of voices (particularly good are Dennis Leary as bad tempered ladybird Francis – “So, just because I’m a ladybug it automatically makes me a girl, is that it fly boy?” and David Hyde Pierce as posh stick insect Slim – “I’m the only stick with eyeballs!”).

Flik (Dave Foley) is an ant that doesn’t fit in with the rest of his colony. He likes to invent things to improve the way the ants do things, but his natural clumsiness thwarts him every time. The only person who likes him is Dot (Hayden Panettiere), a little princess eager to grow up as quickly as possible. Flik's colony is under the thumb of a bullying group of grasshoppers led by Kevin Spacey’s Hopper. Spacey's delivery is note-perfect as you might expect, with Hopper unpredictably switching from comedy to genuine menace on a dime. Hopper’s gang force the ants to provide them with an offering of food before they are allowed to collect for themselves.

Flik and his new friends on the look out.
When Flik’s well-meaning attempt to help accidentally deposits the offering in a nearby stream the colony leaders conspire to trick him into leaving the colony, on a mission to find some ‘tough bugs’ to protect them from Hopper and co. The others assume they’ve got rid of him on a wild goose chase, but Flik actually succeeds. Sort of. He employs a troop of circus bugs who mistake him for a talent scout. In the way these things tend to play out, challenges are faced and overcome, the day is saved, outsiders are accepted and lessons about being true to oneself and standing together in the face of adversity are learned. As is usual with Pixar, this rather clich├ęd resolution is accomplished in a delightfully funny and unorthodox manner.

Targeted at audiences a little younger than many of the better Pixar releases it may be, but it’s still great fun.

Score: 7/10

Despite being minor Pixar, A Bug's Life is pretty well reviewed out there - see this review from James at Reelviews and this one from Nathan at the A.V. Club.