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The Ant Bully

A movie directed by John A. Davis

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Charming "Little" Adventure for All-Ages

  • Sep 5, 2010

Talking insects make for good computer generated animation.  Pixar knew this (A Bug’s Life), Dreamworks knew it (Antz and the Bee Movie), and it hasn’t escaped the attention of Tom Hanks either.

Boasting an 83-minute runtime, the Ant Bully wastes very little time setting up its plot.

This is essentially the story of a ten-year-old boy named Lucas Nickle, who, because of his small stature, finds himself the target for the local bully and his cronies.

When he discovers that his parents are leaving for a honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta, Lucas finds himself under the supervision of his techno-happy older sister and their UFO-obsessed grandmother.

Because he is powerless to stand up for himself, Lucas finds himself taking out his frustration on an anthill in his front yard; water guns, hoses, firecrackers, Lucas’ tormenting means doom for the terrified ants occupying the hill.

It turns out the anthill’s resident wizard Zoc (Nicolas Cage) has devised a risky plan that could potentially shrink “The Destroyer” down to the size of the ants so that he could be tried properly for his crimes against the colony.

The adventure really begins when rather than sentence the now pint-sized human boy to prison; the ant counsel decides he is to experience the difficulties of daily life as an ant.  In the process, Lucas discovers that the things he wants most out of life: friendship, companionship, and the courage to stand up for himself have been at his disposal all along.  And more important still, that size is no measurement of strength.

Naturally it’s quite impossible to even encounter this film without being mentally drawn back to the early days of computer-animated blockbusters like A Bug’s Life and Antz.  And indeed nearly a decade of advancements in technology separating this film from the former two doesn’t seem to have been as kind to the Ant Bully as it has been to some of the projects coming out of Pixar or Dreamworks.  However, what the Ant Bully does have going for it is a decent story that adults can enjoy while the kids marvel at the spectacle of life as seen from the perspective of a human no bigger than an ant.

While calling it gut-busting humorous would certainly be giving the writing a bit too much credit, there are no shortage of sequences that manage to generate a genuine chuckle from viewers of all ages (my own personal giggle-heavy moment arrives when Lucas detonates a firecracker that to him is the size of a school bus).

Though it’s not made overly known in the marketing material, the film is actually the result of Tom Hanks’ adoration for the children’s book of the same name by John Nickel.

Voice work is especially genuine throughout with Julia Roberts giving a very uncharacteristic (natural) performance and Nicolas Cage walking the thin line between a character you either despise or sort of don’t hate.

In all there’s little doubt that the Ant Bully failed to generate the type of spark for Warner Brothers that would make Disney/ Pixar, Dreamworks, or Blue Sky stutter but the blame can hardly be placed on the film itself for that.  This is 89-minutes worth of fun family-oriented entertainment with some solid morals about life forming the foundation of the whimsy at hand.  The fact that the DVD contains 7 additional animated shorts, some of which are truly pretty humorous, is the icing on the cake.

Charming Charming Charming

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September 05, 2010
This is one of my favorites with out a doubt, add in the fact that the great Bruce Campbell in this and it makes for one great film. Great review.
September 05, 2010
FM_Alex- Sooo true! I forgot to even mention Bruce Campbell in my critique, great call! Loved this one from start to finish. Thanks again.
September 05, 2010
I enjoyed this one, but I have to admit that my memory of it is a little hazy as of this moment. Jason, thank you the reviews! You are on a roll with all things animated!
September 05, 2010
Mr. William, the floodgates have opened. Prepare for plenty more in the days to come! Thanks again my man.
More The Ant Bully reviews
review by . February 27, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
My kids wanted me to purchase this DVD even though I wasn't quite enthused on getting it since it release date. After watching this with the kids it turned out to be better than what I expected. I was rewarded with a simple movie that looks great and delivers a simple message. It also turned out to have enough action sequences in it to keep things interesting,and minimum scary moments for the younger ones. Even though it's been eight years after "Antz" and "A Bug's Life" went head to head, Warner …
review by . January 24, 2007
Before watching this movie, I thought it would be some sort of rehash of Antz or A Bug's Life. In fact, it was totally different, with a unique and very original storyline. Lucas Nickle is the protagonist, the new kid on the block who gets roughed up by Steve, the neighborhood bully. He takes out his anger on the anthill in his yard, subjecting them to kicks, sprays from the lawn hose, and the dreaded "yellow rain". But what goes around comes around as the ants' wizard, Zoc, concocts a potion that …
About the reviewer

Ranked #14
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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