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A Bug's Life (1998)

It’s a mini adventure

Directed by:

Andrew Stanton

John Lasseter

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 96 minutes

UK Certificate: U

On DVD

Country: United States

In the animation world, 1998 was definitely the year of the creepy-crawly, with two bug-based toons – “Antz” and “A Bug’s Life” – finding box office success within months of each other. But it’s “A Bug’s Life”, Pixar’s follow-up to the phenomenally successful “Toy Story“, which is likely to be most fondly remembered in years to come.

Stand-up comic Dave Foley provides the voice of Flik, a clumsy ant whose notoriously hair-brained schemes are playing havoc with his popularity among the rest of the colony, not least object of his affections Princess Atta (voiced by “Seinfeld”‘s Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Flik’s dumped into a spot of bother when he accidentally destroys the harvest of food his fellow ants have been working all summer to collect for the evil grasshoppers. So, in a last ditch attempt to make amends, he volunteers to head off on a quest to recruit some “bigger bugs” to come and lend a hand. The only problem is, the gang he ends up talking into returning to the colony with him aren’t fearless warriors at all, but performer bugs from a struggling “flea circus”.

The story borrows almost its entire premise from “The Three Amigos”, which was in itself a parody of “The Seven Samurai”. The references to other movies don’t stop there either – note head bad guy Hopper (Kevin Spacey) and his cries of “let’s ride!”, clearly by way of tribute to “Easy Rider”.

Though not up to the standard of “Toy Story” in terms of either comedy value or pure imagination, “A Bug’s Life” provides some quality entertainment that’s guaranteed to appeal to all ages. The quality of the animation on show is first class, and there’s some nicely-observed humour running throughout thanks to a writing team including “Seinfeld” pensmiths Don McEnery and Bob Shaw. And make sure you don’t switch off before the end credits, or you’ll miss out on one of the highlights of the whole movie – the spoof production out-takes.

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It's Got: Denis Leary magnificently cast as the gruff-voiced lady-bug who ain’t no lady.

It Needs: The ants to have six legs instead of only four – that’s basic know-your-insect stuff, surely?!

DVD Extras The award-winning animated short "Geri’s Game", and two sets of out-takes. DVD Extras Rating: 4/10

Alternatives:

Antz, Chicken Run, Toy Story

Summary

Plenty of insect-sized fun to be had for all the family.

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