Reviewed by: Matthew Prins
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