A Bug's Life (1998)
Directed by John Lasseter
Cast Voices: Dave Foley, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kevin Spacey, Hayden Panettiere, Madeline Kahn, David Hyde Pierce, Phyllis Diller, Brad Garrett, Denis Leary, Joe Ranft, Edie McClurg.
1998 94 minutes
Rated: (nothing objectionable).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, November 28, 1998.
After the recent animated debacles of, "A Rugrats Movie," and "A Bug's Life," I am seriously considering raising my highly negative rating on Dreamworks' other insect film from October, "Antz." I hated that movie, and yet, it is so much better than these latest two excursions. "A Bug's Life," is the second animated insect film in the last two months, and I hoped for the best, considering it was done in the wonderful style of Pixar's last film, 1995's "Toy Story," but in no way does, "A Bug's Life," even remotely match up to that.
Flik (David Foley), an ant, who along with his many comrades, has the job every year of gathering up the seasonal harvest, only to have to give half of it away to the dominating grasshoppers, led by Hopper (Kevin Spacey). Flik, however, feels all alone and unwanted in the world, especially after he accidentally loses all of their food, and the ants are threated by Hopper to gather up a whole other season's load by the time the last summer leaf falls from the trees. Banished from Ant Island, Flik leaves the colony in search of some strong reinforcement to help out, but through a misunderstanding, returns with a handful of helpless circus bugs, including a walking stick (David Hyde Pierce), a dung beetle (Brad Garrett), a gypsy moth (Madeline Kahn), a male ladybug (Denis Leary), and a caterpillar (Joe Ranft).
"A Bug's Life," has one thing going for it. Only one thing. With its glorious, bright colors, the computer-generated animation is a spectacle to look at. The film itself, unfortunately, is a lifeless, unamusing contraption without any of the flair or excitement of, "Toy Story."
The characters in, "A Bug's Life," are an assortment of either unlikable or dull insects without any charm or personality, other than to stand around and recite arbitrary and thoroughly unfunny one-liners. The thin story was also stretched out to a nearly unbearable 94 minutes, and it often felt as if they ran out of ideas throughout, and so they made up pointless scenes to pass as time-filler.
After giving such scathing reviews to the animated films from this year, I was beginning to think that I had simply outgrown them, but then I realized this is just not so. I still adore almost all of the older Disney films, and many of the newer ones, such as 1989's, "The Little Mermaid," 1991's, "Beauty and the Beast," 1993's, "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and yes, 1995's, "Toy Story." Maybe this has just been a bad year for children's films, and hopefully, the upcoming, "The Prince of Egypt," will not be a disappointment. As for, "A Bug's Life," I did not enjoy anything about it. Not the story, not the characters, and not even the voiceover work, which was far more lively in, "Antz." "A Bug's Life," goes down as yet another failure for Disney, and it is a sad state of affairs when their best film in the last two years has been the minor Jonathan Taylor Thomas picture, "I'll Be Home for Christmas."
©1998 by Dustin Putman