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Laramie Movie Scope:
A Bug's Life

More animated ants, along with grasshoppers and other bugs

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(1998) After Antz, more ants, along with grasshoppers, other insects, and assorted bugs. "Ladies and gentlebugs," director John Lasseter presents, on behalf of Walter Disney Pictures and Pixar Studios, with music from Randy Newman, another delightfully entertaining animated feature.

On Ant Island an ant colony must collect, in addition to its own winter supply, a food offering to appease the grasshoppers. The aged Queen (voiced by Phyllis Diller), accompanied by her pet aphid, has given her anxiety-ridden daughter, Princess Atta (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), some authority to prepare her for taking charge of the colony. Flik (Dave Foley), a chipper, independent-minded ant given to inventions (such as his grain harvester), tries explaining to Dot, the little princess, frustrated with her smallness and inability to use her tiny wings, how a seed (but substituting a rock, similar to a variable in algebra) eventually grows into a tree.

By accident, Flik's clumsiness costs the colony its food offering just as the grasshoppers arrive. Bursting into the colony, the mean and nasty Hopper (Kevin Spacey) threatens Princess Atta - "First rule of leadership: Everything is your fault" - before showing "compassion" by doubling the quota expected from the ants by the time the last leaf falls. There's neither enough time nor food available on the island to meet Hopper's demand.

Struck with the thought of leaving the island to seek help, Flik volunteers for what everyone else considers a suicidal mission - but so what, let him go since he messed up. Bravely setting off with his leaf-blanket roll, floating across the dry riverbed with the aid of a dandelion, then entering The City - "Who ordered the pu-pu platter?" asks a waiter while a mosquito requests a "bloody Mary, O-positive" from the bar - Flik encounters a cast of recent castoffs from P.T. Flea's circus, whom he mistakes for warriors; they in turn misconstrue Flik as a talent scout looking for a dinner-theater act.

Manto the Magnificent (a praying mantis) and his spouse, Gypsy (a butterfly), form a troupe with the trapeze artist, Rosie the black widow spider; Francis, the male ladybug; Slim, a walking stick who performs slapstick; Heimlich, a caterpillar; Dim, a dung beetle; and Tuck and Roll, a pair ("Turn your butt off") of lightning bugs. Astonished by Flik's return with company, the colony at first greets them as champions, only later to realize they're just a bunch of clowns.

Princess Atta sympathizes with Flik since the colony expects both to screw up. But following an attack by a bird, Flik hatches another invention to defend the colony. Meanwhile, south of the border, where the living is good and the food plentiful for the grasshoppers, Hopper quashes the notion of those who question returning to Ant Island, because of Flik's feeble stirring of a rebellious attitude: "You let one ant stand up to us, then they all might stand upů. It's not about food. It's about keeping those ants in line."

No sex, of course, for the kiddies, but there's plenty of violence. The deft mini-animation of the THX and Pixar logos preceding the picture along with the witty "outtakes" during the credits are not to be missed.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2008 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

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