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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.51%
Worth A Look72.34%
Average: 4.26%
Pretty Bad: 12.77%
Total Crap: 2.13%

6 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Ant Bully, The
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by Erik Childress

"Pixar Loses Again This Year"
4 stars

Bugs, insects and other assorted swatter-worthy creatures may never know that they have found a home in the movies as the good guys. Pixarís A Bugís Life and this yearís Over The Hedge have put a smiling face on the nuisances that have plagued garbage bags and happy homes. And what of ants? Long the irritant of Phase IV, Joan Collins films and the fearsome torture of Solarbabies, these tiny swarms have become a kid film star. One was an ally in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. The overlooked Antz featured the neuroses of Woody Allen, the bravado of Sly Stallone and the gravitas of Gene Hackman. Now, The Ant Bully combines the destruction of male adolescence with an overtly simple message into one of the most pleasant animated experiences of the year.

The food chain of the animal kingdom we all live in is pretty uncomplicated. The bigger one smacks down the smaller one. Such is the case for young Lucas Nickle (voiced by Zach Tyler), the frequent target of the neighborhood bully and his loyal Grover Dills. After taking his daily wedgie and a family life which makes him feel like a baby, Lucas takes his frustrations out on the ant colony that exists in his lawn. First with his water gun and later by hose which draws the admiration of a pushy exterminator (Paul Giamatti) who gets Lucasí consent to spray the area while his folks are out of town.

Down below another plan is being hatched by Zoc (Nicolas Cage), the colonyís resident wizard, who is working on a potion that will shrink their tormentor down to their size. When Lucas gets an earful of it as he sleeps, the ants whisk him underground and vow to make him work his way towards understanding they are living beings too. Or eat him. Zocís gal, Hova (Julia Roberts) offers her leadership in this venture and along with teacher Kreela (Regina King) and vain muscle ant, Fugax (Bruce Campbell), Lucas slowly discovers that the strength of the many outweighs a solo performance.

The Ant Bully achieves many surprising pleasures during its run, starting right off with its splendid animation which is bursting with a crispness of imagery that puts most of the stylings this year to shame. John A. Davis (also taking writing duties adapting a less-than-well received childrenís book by John Nickle) comes from the Jimmy Neutron TV series (and movie) and his animation team brings depth to the colony interior and its thousands of inhabitants. Then they really get to shine in the action scenes which are surprisingly copious and well-staged including stand-offs with invading wasps and the overzealous bug-smoker that take on the fury of old WWII dogfight movies.

Davis, who also made the highly entertaining IMAX short Santa vs. the Snowman, keeps the pace brisk so as not to bore adults inundated with recent animated disappointments. Itís quite funny, bringing myself to virtual scream laughter at two moments in the belly of a frog and, surprisingly, in the aftermath of a bodily function. Itís message of working together to achieve a common goal is a two-headed beast (one respected colleague of mine has already labeled it as communism); a group effort always appreciated but it does sidestep the benefit of solving oneís own problems. Plus, as valiant as they may seem in the film, our feet are going to have many future encounters with these sweet rock hoarders and weíll never think twice. The voicework by Cage, Roberts & Giamatti rises above the usual celebrity-driven blandness (and isnít it always nice to hear Bruce Campbell even if you canít see him in the flesh.) I had a great time with The Ant Bully and even though we have five months left in the year, it would easily fit on my animated feature ballot alongside Monster House and A Scanner Darkly and would need something pretty special to knock it off.

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originally posted: 07/28/06 14:01:48
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User Comments

11/29/09 Rachel Has a good message. Good movie for children. 4 stars
1/13/09 Guy cool moviee 4 stars
8/15/08 Shaun Wallner This was a funny movie. 5 stars
4/25/07 Tiffany Losco cute movie, great for familys 5 stars
4/23/07 Abs Nice movie. Worth watching. 5 stars
3/21/07 man stupid 1 stars
12/29/06 Kimberly The kid is to mean and the story line generic. I really didn't like it 3 stars
10/25/06 Mike Pretty sweet movie. I loved the frogs 5 stars
10/15/06 William Goss Generic story and style, impressive animation. Could easily go w/o snot and spit gags. 3 stars
8/04/06 Matthew Bradley Great Fun Family Flick 4 stars
7/29/06 Pokejedservo A rather bit of a pleasant surprise if I do say so myself. 4 stars
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  28-Jul-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 28-Nov-2006



Directed by
  John A. Davis

Written by
  John A. Davis

  Nicolas Cage
  Bruce Campbell
  Paul Giamatti
  Julia Roberts
  Meryl Streep
  Lily Tomlin

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