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Review: 'A Bug's Life' hits a bulls-eye

Web posted on:
Friday, November 20, 1998 11:12:17 AM EST

From Reviewer Paul Clinton

(CNN) -- The battle for the children's box office bucks has begun. "A Bug's Life" opens this week against Paramount's new animated film, "Rug Rats," and next week "Babe: Pig In The City" opens as Universal Studio's entry into the race for holiday family viewing.

"A Bug's Life" joins "Antz" as the second bug-involved movie to sit down at the box-office picnic table this fall. "Antz" is more adult in its sensibilities and is the best Woody Allen film in years. But "A Bug's Life" is broader in its appeal and is truly aimed at the whole family.

Paul's Pix: "A Bug's Life"
Windows Media: 28k or 56k
Real: 28k or 56k
Theatrical preview for "A Bug's Life"
Windows Media: 28k or 56k
Real: 28k or 56k

As with "Antz," in "A Bug's Life" we have an individual ant, this time named Flik and voiced by Dave Foley, who takes it upon himself to save his entire ant colony. The enemy in this film is a gang of nasty grasshoppers led by the very menacing Hopper, played by Kevin Spacey, who extort food from the ants in return for protection.

All-star cast

Julia Louis-Dreyfus makes a post-"Seinfeld" appearance as the voice of Princess Atta who, of course, falls in love with our hero. Phyllis Diller plays her mother, the Queen ant, who is hoping to retire soon and turn the colony over to Atta.

Richard Kind (best known for his role on the TV show "Mad About You") is wonderful as the grasshopper Molt, the villainous Hopper's loser brother.

There is also a great appearance by "Frasier"'s David Hyde Pierce, who lends his voice to the character of Slim. Slim is a very intellectual, and rather snobby, walking stick bug who takes himself very, very seriously.

Dennis Leary's gravelly voice is perfect for Francis, a male ladybug suffering from a gender crisis. And finally we have the late Roddy McDowall in his last role as Mr. Soil, a pompous ant who serves on the colony's ruling council.

Taking the dual themes of "individuals can make a difference" and "it takes teamwork to make great things happen," "A Bug's Life" is a wonderful achievement both in its charming story and its brilliant computer animation.

Perfect movie for holidays

Screenwriters Donald McEnery and Bob Shaw both come from a background of stand-up comedy and it shows in their very witty -- and at time outrageous -- script. The animation is by Pixar, the same people who brought us "Toy Story" in 1995, and the director is Academy Award winner John Lasseter who also co-directed "Toy Story."

"A Bug's Life" is a perfect movie for the holidays. It contains a great upbeat message ... it's wonderful to look at ... it's wildly inventive ... and it's entertaining for both adults and kids.

If you go to see "A Bug's Life," don't bolt for the parking lot as soon as The End appears on the screen. Sit back and enjoy the most innovative closing credits in years. You're in for a surprising treat.

There is also a very hummable score by Randy Newman. Newman is a 10-time Oscar nominee for his film scores -- including his nomination for "You've Got A Friend in Me" from "Toy Story."

Put away the Raid -- "A Bug's Life" is going to be a big hit. If this movie doesn't make you smile you may not know how.

"A Bug's Life," which opens on November 25, is rated "G" with a running time of 94 minutes.

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