Starring: Kevin Spacey, Dave Foley, Julia-Louis Dreyfus
Director: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton
Running Time: 95 mins
A Bug’s Life is an American film about an ant, out of place in his local community, who is sent away to search for warrior bugs to defend his anthill against the impending attack of a gang of grasshoppers, but his final choices don’t turn out to be all that mighty.
Pixar’s storytelling ability in the early days of computer animation is still absolutely remarkable. A Bug’s Life, its second feature, doesn’t compare to the brilliance of the original Toy Story, but with improved animation quality, fun voice performances and an enjoyable plot, it’s still an entertaining and engaging watch from start to finish.
If there is one thing about this movie that is better than Toy Story, then it’s the animation. Although still looking a little bit like a video game in comparison to today’s standards, the three-year gap from the first Pixar film makes a real difference, giving the film a much greater visual depth and dynamic, particularly in the impressive landscape shots of the tiny worlds the bugs live within.
Much like Toy Story, the film is also a really entertaining watch. It doesn’t ever have any hugely emotional moments, but as far as making a family adventure movie goes, Pixar get it absolutely right here. Taking a great premise and adding great humour and ingenuity to it, there’s all sorts to love about this movie, and that’s why, despite its somewhat pale comparison to the greatest of Pixar, you can’t just write A Bug’s Life off.
And what’s more is that it’s full of great voice performances. Dave Foley is good in the central role, and Kevin Spacey and Julia-Louis Dreyfus are entertaining too, but the best voice performances come from those voicing the circus bugs. With the zaniest characters in the movie, Denis Leary, Joe Ranft, Bonnie Hunt, David Hyde Pierce and Mike McShane are all hugely entertaining, whose lively performances always add the biggest laughs the movie has to offer.
If there is one qualm that I’d have with this film, then it is the lack of emotional depth to the story. As I said, it’s a hugely entertaining adventure, but because we’re following Flik as a single main character for most of the time, and then a variety of supporting characters around him, the emotional connections that the film tries to bring in towards the middle and end of the story just aren’t that convincing, and don’t add to the somewhat predictable, although enjoyable, story arc.
Overall, it’s tough to say that A Bug’s Life isn’t a good film, because it’s so enjoyable, something that’s made even more impressive given the strides Pixar was making in animation at the end of the 90s. The story isn’t the greatest ever written, but it’s always an entertaining watch thanks to the strong voice performances and adventure plot, and that’s why I’m giving this a 7.5.