I’s been awhile since there’s been a good animated ant movie in the theatres. In 1998 there were two—Antz and A Bug’s Life—but ant lovers can rejoice as The Ant Bully comes to theatres today. Adapted from a kid’s book that the movie’s producer, Tom Hanks, used to read to his son, The Ant Bully is the story of a lonely ten-year-old boy who is bullied by the neighborhood kids so he takes out his frustrations on the only thing smaller than him—the ants in his yard. That is until the day the ants come up with a potion that cuts this anthropoid down to size—ant size. It’s kind of a Honey I Shrunk the Kids with insects.
Inventively animated—the director John A Davis seems to have taken his inspiration not from kid’s movies but from the great science fiction look of 1950’s films like The Day the Earth Stood Still—The Ant Bully features the standard moral lessons for kids about cooperation, equality and kindness, but sells those messages with a great deal of gentle humor.
The ant society is effectively compared and contrasted to the human world, displaying the differences in a hilarious scene featuring a firecracker that could be potentially devastating to the ants but makes barely a pop in the human world, and the similarities in the interpersonal relationships. The movie takes its first third to really get in gear, but with the voice work of Julia Roberts, Paul Giamatti, Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin it soon finds its footing.
Voice work aside the best reason to see this movie are the incredible visuals. The inner workings of the ant colony are particularly well realized, as are the incredible wasps, which look like high-tech aircrafts as much as insects.
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