Friday, April 26, 2013

Movie Review: A Bug's Life

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Endearing characters in a fun story
Cons: The grasshoppers could scare young kids
The Bottom Line:
Overlooked Pixar
Deserves to still be enjoyed
Funny and charming

"Pretend This is a Seed."  "But It's a Rock."

When most people discuss their favorite Pixar films, A Bug's Life doesn't seem to get mentioned a lot.  That's a shame.  The film may be 10 years old, but it is still funny and entertaining today.

The story revolves around Flik (voiced by Dave Foley).  He's one of the ants in a colony on Ant Island.  He's always trying to come up with new, better ways to do things.  And his ideas are almost always ridiculed and ignored.  Of course, most of the time, his ideas turn into disasters.

 Take this morning, for example.  It's the day that Hopper (Kevin Spacey) and his grasshopper gang come for their annual offering of food.  The ants have been collecting for months.  Princess Atta (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is especially nervous because this is her first time in charge.  But Flik's harvester malfunctions at the wrong moment, destroying the offering.

So when Flik comes up with the idea of finding warrior bugs to drive the grasshoppers away once and for all, the ant colony jumps on a chance to get rid of him.  Setting off to the city, he finds the perfect troop.  The thing is, he doesn't know they are really disgraced circus bugs.  With all these mix ups, will anything ever get resolved?

Now I will be the first to admit the plot isn't highly original.  True, the setting is (despite Dreamworks trying to horn in on the idea with their own film).  But most of the plot points I saw coming a mile away.  That doesn't stop my enjoyment for one moment.

For one thing, the characters are endearing.  You want to see Flik succeed at something.  And you definitely start to root for the circus bugs.  There are so many characters here that they aren't all fully developed, but they all have their moments to shine.

The voice cast is incredible.  In addition to the stars I've already named, you've got Phyllis Diller, Richard Kind, David Hyde Pierce, Denis Leary, Bonnie Hunt, John Ratzenberger (of course), and a young Hayden Panettiere of Heroes fame as Dot, the baby sister to Atta, and the one character who believes in Flik.

All this comes together in a Pixar staple, the climax that won't quit.  Just when you think they are about to resolve things, another twist comes along.  This is definitely one part that isn't predictable.

With the constant changes in the computer animation field, it's no surprise to say that the graphics could be a little better by today's standards.  I remember being blown away when I first saw it, and I've got to say that the settings still look pretty amazing.  The shots that involve fog and rain will especially blow you away.  The problem comes with the main characters.  They look a bit like plastic figures.  This is especially true of the ants.  It's not a huge problem, but a problem I notice every time I start to watch this film.

A quick word of warning to parents.  The grasshoppers are rather mean.  They are bullies who terrorize the ants.  As such, some of their scenes could frighten young children.  You will want to take your kids' fear levels into account before you let them watch this one.

I must admit I don't pull this one out as often as some of my other Pixar films.  Every time I do, I am reminded just how much I love it.  So if you have missed A Bug's Life, rectify that today.

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