Published Aug 01, 2006With so many so mainstream animated flicks trying to straddle both the adult and childrens audiences with varying degrees of success, its almost refreshing to find a movie that doesnt aim too far beyond being a straightforward morality tale. Unfortunately, with its bratty protagonist, generic storyline and reliance on potty jokes instead of the kind of grownup humour that generally goes over kids heads, The Ant Bully doesnt do much to endear itself to either side of the parent/offspring divide.
It isnt a return to the days before Don Rickles Mr. Potato Head fantasised about Barbie tour guides in Toy Story 2 so much as lazy storytelling masquerading as sincerity. Its not terrible, it just feels like a childrens TV show stretched out to feature length, only with better graphics and A-list vocal talent.
While its fun watching Bruce Campbell (okay, B-list talent) hamming it up as Fugax, a blowhard scouting ant, or Nicolas Cage brooding as Zoc, the suspicious antagonist to Lucas, the ant bullying misfit of the title who is magically shrunken and forced to live among them until he learns his lesson, there are no real surprises. Meryl Streep is fine in her five minutes of screen time as the Queen Ant and Julia Roberts is decent as Hova, Lucass supportive, nurturing mentor (who naturally has to be saved by him when the going gets tough) but the "by the numbers script keeps them from being engaging characters.
Despite some possible references to the current political climate (Lucas initially wages war against the ants in order to assert the kind of power over others that he lacks in his own life) and the suggestion that the ants socialist system is much healthier than human societys "every man for himself philosophy, its the kind of movie thats mildly pleasant to watch but instantly forgettable. (Warner)