Movie Review

A Bug's Life

Rated “G”

Reviewed by: Matthew Prins
CONTRIBUTOR

Good
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
All Ages
Genre:
Animation/Comedy
Length:
96 min.
G

Starring: Voices of Dave Foley, Kevin Spacey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Hayden Panettiere, Phyllis Diller, Richard Kind, David Hyde Pierce, Joe Ranft / Director: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton

There was a time, not many years ago, when Disney movies were enchanting. “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” created worlds of wonder and beauty, with just a twinkle of concorable evil that lay just beneath the surface. “Aladdin” had a comic energy that it gathered from Robin Williams' unquenchable and potent talent. But with every ensuing Disney movie, the joie de vivre that made Disney such a power seemed to slip further and further away.

The enchantment is back. “A Bug’s Life” is an imaginative and joyous romp that leaves the other autumn bug movie, the competent “Antz”, far behind in the ant hill gathering food for the winter.

The plot of “A Bug’s Life” is similar to that of all of the recent Disney movies. There is an outsider; in this case, it is Flik, an ant voiced by News Radio’s David Foley. Some life-changing event occurs—Flik knocks over the pile of food the ants have been building for months—and the outsider is forced to leave the place he or she has known as home. Eventually, the outsider joins others who don’t quite fit into society.

The movie’s energy doesn’t come from its story, then; it comes from its characters. In particular, the group of circus bugs that Flik joins after leaving the colony are the most exciting supporting cast in a Disney movie in a long, long time. Between the male ladybug Francis, the gibberish-speaking Hungarian pillbugs (sure to be a favorite with the smallest kids), and the highly intellegent walking stick voiced by David Hyde Pierce, there exists a group of characters that would rival any Disney movie. Once the other characters are added, it becomes an ensemble cast that rivals even the best live action films. And they exist in a glorious computer-generated environment that outdistances both “Toy Story” and “Antz”, the movies “A Bug’s Life” is most likely to be compared with.

There is very little for Christians to be concerned about in this Disney film. Smaller children might be scared by the menacing and ugly grasshoppers that try to steal the ants' food, and some might be grossed-out by the mosquito that orders a Bloody Mary and gets only the former. Even then, it would be hard to find things that are offensive—only bothersome.

Two bonuses come with watching “A Bug’s Life.” The first is the Academy Award-winning short that preceeds the film, “Geri’s Game,” a clever computer-animated film about an old man who plays chess with himself—and wins. The second is the closing credits to the film, which might be the funniest part of the entire film. I should say no more, except this: even without the bonuses, “A Bug’s Life” is the most exciting Disney movie since “Beauty and the Beast.” Finally, I can be excited about Disney again.

Year of Release—1998

Viewer Comments
I was offended by this film and glad that my husband and I previewed it first before allowing our children to see it. The grasshoppers and their gang mentality would have scared my children throughout the film. I also did not appreciate the rude and sarcastic language, which has been mentioned in earlier comments. The queen ant was a little too horny throughout the movie for my children to view. And lastly the final scene where the bad guy is screaming while being fed alive to the baby birds scared even me. I think many forget that our view of thingsfrom an adults viewpoint is very different from an impressionable and naive one of a child's.
—Jennifer Holmes, age 36
I thought this was a superb motion picture; one of the most innovative by far. I must respond to the negative comments made about the praying mantis and the lady bug. The Praying Mantis: (1) He is supposed to be a stage magician—in the olden days of the circus, many magicians adopted mystical habits solely to add impact to their performances, (2) although he was in a meditative trance, no supernatural powers manifested. The Lady Bug: (1) How many people can HONESTLY say they never habitually assume a LADY bug is anything other than a female? (2) The character NEVER displayed ANY homosexual behavior…
—Ed, age 19
Kudos to Sam and his comments. I am disappointed in the reviewer’s comments on this film. The annimation is beautiful and there are many funny scenes—BUT! There is a lot of violence in this movie—so much fighting and verbal abuse. My 5 year old was frightened many times by the grasshopper’s and I was bored after ½ hour. There always has to be a homosexual and religious theme in every Disney movie—hense the “Praying” Mantis and the ladybug who “gets in touch with his feminine side.” Disney is still trying to woe our children away from the Lord—do we care? Then let’s continue to boycott on Disney.
—Ronni, age 36
I was amazed at the artistry. I was amused to laughter. I was delighted. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a theatre with lots of little ones. They were entertained as well as the adults. To hear them clapping and laughing, along with me, was just a real thrill. The best by far has to be when the credits are rolling, so don’t rush out of the theatre. We only stayed to see if we were right about the voices and who they belonged to but never saw one word of it. The added touch during the credits was absolutely hysterical. Way to “finally” go Disney!!
—Susan Sheffield
I Wholeheartedly agree with the reviewer concerning this film, and also on the “sit through the credits” advice. Don’t get up and walk out as the credits start showing and during the first few “nature scenes”…the best is yet to come!
—Nancy Walters, age 35
This film seemed to hold the kids eyes to screen, but did not fill the building with joy as some kids films do. It was a good clean film that a family could see with out worry of offense, unless of course we dig deep to fault find. In that case we can find some thing to yell about, but our kids would be exposed to far worse watching TV or maybe just listening to us. I am happy to see the rise of family films as of late, I just wish they would make some for adults. You could sit and watch a lot worse for your child, but the lack of humor made this film mostly for our children. My advice is, do it for the kids, they will remember you for it when they get grown.
—Charlie Dykstra, age 30
This movie is great, it is so funny and so entertaining. The computer graphics are amazing, even if someone didn’t like the movie they would have to at least appreciate the graphics. But I loved it and my 4 yo. daughter did too. It is definitely a great movie for children and adults. The grasshoppers are hilarious, but could possibly scare children too young. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone.
—kelli, age 24
There was something’s in the movie that makes this movie, one that won’t end up in my video collection. The first thing is the praying mantis is first seen meditating yoga style. Not something I won’t to teach my kids. Second is when the praying mantis is performing his act he says he is using his psyche to pick someone for his trick and I wonder where he is suppose to be getting his power from to complete the trick if he is using his psyche for the first part. It only takes a brief look at Acts 16:16-18 to discover the source of psychic powers. His performance is new age to the fullest. No new age is getting in my house. Also you might want to look at all the phrases your kids will learn from this film. Phrases: “Shut up,” “You parasite,” “”Poo poo heads,” “Ingrates,” “Who ordered the poo poo platter?,” “You fight like a girl,” “Stupid,” “Loser,” “Screw up,” “Turn your butt off,” “Idiot,” “You moron,” and “You piece of dirt.”
—Sam McNear, age 28
What a delightful film. I was taken in by the beauty of the animation and the characters. My kids are 12,11,8, and 6 and they enjoyed the film immensely. The only thing that I would warn about is that younger children (under 6) may be a bit frightened by the grasshoppers meanness. Great job Pixar, you have once again made a Disney film worth seeing!
—Michael, age 41
…This is a hillarious film. I enjoyed it very much. The graphics from the computers are amazing to watch. It has no language of any kind, and is the best movie to take your kids to see. You will really love A Bug’s Life, it will keep you laughing out of your seat.
—James Nation
…This is a very good movie anyone could take his or her children to. Except for one scene in which a waiter asks, “Who ordered the poo-poo platter” there is very little that might offend someone.
—Stephanie Hanson
…The computer animation team for Disney out did themselves with “A Bug’s Life.” The animation is flawless. The colors are great, the motion smooth, and the detail impeccable. I was in awe of the state of technology available for this type of film. The script is light, fun, and nicely paced. The characters are cute, entertaining, and generally amusing (though not terribly original). I genuinely enjoyed “A Bug’s Life.” …The only concerns I could possibly raise are the grasshoppers are a bit scary for very young audiences, the scatological humor in the “city” scene (involving a housefly’s propensity for dung), one fly saying “cripes” which could be a cleaned up version of the name of Christ, and possibly some gender issues with Francis the ladybug. None of these disqualify “A Bug’s Life” from classification as a solid family film. Although I generally do not like Disney films (due overuse of sexual innuendo and new age messages), I was pleasantly surprised by “A Bug’s Life.” There are a few hairs to split, but I walked out of the theater smiling. I liked “A Bug’s Life”; I suspect you will too.
—David Rettig, age 30