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Flik is an ant on an island of ants
With a tree rising over each head.
They spend their days harvesting grain from the plants
To keep hungry grasshoppers fed.
Considered a fool, poor Flik just wants a chance
To prove that he’s helpful instead.
When Flik inadvertently ruins the food,
The grasshoppers’ chief, who’s named Hopper,
Demands they pick double to keep them subdued,
Which he says for an ant is quite proper.
But Flik has the chutzpah to swiftly conclude
They need warriors or a crime stopper.
While Atta, the princess, is dubious still,
It’s a way to get rid of Flik fast.
So while they start picking, Flik leaves the anthill
To prove himself useful at last.
A nearby bug city yields little until
A “warrior” posse rolls past.
Flik begs them to come, for he thinks that they’re tough,
But they’re really a lame circus show.
Back home, Flik tells all that these bugs have the stuff
To make Hopper finally go.
Yet all the bugs balk when it’s made plain enough
They’re expected to battle a foe.
They all want to leave, but a bird intervenes,
And their actions impress the ant crowd.
Flik has an idea that’s approved by the queens,
And the warriors speak it aloud.
They all build a bird in a montage of scenes,
And, once finished, everyone’s proud.
They plan to scare Hopper away with the bird,
And they celebrate into the night,
But soon the shocked ant colony gets the word
That clowns are assisting their plight.
They banish both Flik and the bugs he referred,
As they lose their conviction to fight.
The food they collect doesn’t please Hopper’s crew,
So the grasshoppers lock down the ants,
But young Princess Dot flies to Flik, who withdrew,
And he makes a plan in advance.
The circus bugs help to distract Hopper’s view
While Flik gets their “bird” to advance.
The “bird” scares the foe, but Flik’s scheme is revealed,
And Hopper’s enraged at this cretin.
Yet, seeing their numbers, the ants take the field
And the grasshopper hordes are soon beaten.
In seeking revenge, Hopper’s own fate is sealed
When he finds a real bird and is eaten.
With the grasshoppers gone and their freedom restored,
The ants honor Flik and his friends.
The circus bugs wave, and, with extras aboard,
They leave as their wagon ascends.
And Flik at last gets a true hero’s reward,
Romance and the gladdest of ends.

All of Pixar’s films are wonderful to varying degrees, and the fact that A Bug’s Life (or any film) is this low on the list doesn’t mean it’s a poor film, just one I like less than others. This insect fable is the lowest Pixar movie on my list (I’ll admit that Cars 2 wasn’t good enough to make the cut, and I haven’t yet seen Monsters University), but it remains a funny and endearing classic. While the main plot is clearly drawn from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and the concept is quite similar to DreamWorks’s Antz, released just a month earlier, A Bug’s Life has enough lovable characters and subtle humor to be original enough to blow Antz out of the water, though Woody Allen’s film still has its good points.

One amazing aspect of the film is its many diverse characters. There are a ladybug, a walking stick, a caterpillar, a butterfly, a praying mantis, a rhinoceros beetle, a spider, two pill bugs, a flea, two main grasshoppers, and at least seven named ants, and every one is given a distinct personality and great character moments. As many times as I’ve seen A Bug’s Life, there continue to be little details I hadn’t noticed; for instance, my VC pointed out that the awesome score would have fit well in a western, leading to observations of similarities to westerns, such as good guys being called in to stop outlaws, the desert location of Hopper’s vacation spot, and the flea’s stagecoach-like circus wagon.

The large cast of uniquely developed individuals has become typical of Pixar’s films, started by Toy Story and continued by the likes of Cars and Finding Nemo. A Bug’s Life also sticks out in my mind for the unusually gruesome death of the villain. Hopper is actually devoured alive, setting a precedent, followed by other cartoons like The Incredibles and Up, that animated bad guys can meet almost any horrific end as long as it is offscreen.

A Bug’s Life may be Pixar’s least original film and one of its least memorable, but it is still a fun adventure with lovely, though still developing CGI animation, countless laugh-out-loud insect-themed jokes, and a hilarious voice cast.

Best line: (a fly at the circus) “I only got twenty-four hours to live, and I ain’t gonna waste it here.”

VC’s best line: (waitress) “Who ordered the poo poo platter?” (Flies swarm all over it.)

Artistry: 5
Characters/Actors: 8
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: 5
Originality: 4
Watchability: 7
Other (I just like other films better): -4
TOTAL: 33 out of 60

Next: #279 – The Muppets

© 2014 S. G. Liput