A BUG'S LIFE
The story focuses on a colony of ants whose queen (voice of Phyllis Diller)
and princess Atta (Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus) are overseeing
the colony-wide effort to collect food for the annual offering to the grasshoppers.
Led by Hopper (Kevin Spacey), the big, nasty creatures bully the ants into
feeding them every year because hey they can. "It's our
lot in life," says the queen, early in the film. "It's not a lot,
but it's life!" Followed by the patented Diller laugh.
In the meantime, Flik (NewsRadio's Dave Foley) is perfecting his
newest invention: an automatic seed harvester made from a blade of grass
and worn on his back. Flik is known for his inventions, which usually almost
work but always cause large disasters. When he knocks over the offering
stone just before the grasshoppers arrive, dumping all the collected seeds
in the pond, Hopper is not amused. He gives the ants until the end of the
season to collect double the normal quota, or else.
Since Flik caused the problem, he offers to solve it by finding a bunch
of warrior bugs who can help the ants defend themselves against their oppressors.
Happy to get him away from the colony, Atta agrees to send him on the quest,
thinking she will never see him again. He leaves the security of Ant Island
and soon arrives in Bug City.
Looking for "tough bugs," he witnesses a band of out-of-work
circus insects defending themselves against some unruly flies. There are
a host of celebrity voices present, such as Frasier's David Hyde
Pierce as Slim, the stick-bug who wants to be cast in a more demanding role;
Denis Leary as Francis, the male ladybug who must use attitude to compensate
for his feminine markings; Bonnie Hunt as Rosie, a black widow spider who
nervously discusses her deceased husbands; and several others. Through dumb
luck they beat the flies, and Flik is convinced they are just the type he
needs to stand up against Hopper and his minions. When he approaches them
about their "performance," they think he caught the latest show
and wants them to do their act for the colony, so they agree.
Flik returns triumphant, but soon everyone discovers his error. The circus
bugs are no match for grasshoppers and they know it. But when they band
together to save young Dot (Hayden Panettiere) from a bird, it seems there
may be a chance after all. Soon they are drawing up battle plans with Flik
A Bug's Life is packed to the exoskeleton with fun, and the crisp,
clear animation is something that must be seen to be believed. Another great
feature (and rare among animated films) is the inclusion of phony "out-takes"
during the end credits--scenes of the characters blowing their lines, breaking
out laughing, etc. You know a company's got money when they pay the animators
to spend an extra week doing pretend flubs.
Disney's got some serious problems when it comes to their recent non-animated films, but there's no doubt that they (and their pals at Pixar) can deliver when it comes to tooney goodness. *****
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