Pixar is back with its second movie in cooperation with Disney, “A Bug’s Life,” taking on the classic fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper.” Dave Foley stars as Flik, an ant that can’t do anything right for his colony and ends up getting the colony in trouble with a group of grasshoppers led by Hopper, voiced by Kevin Spacey. Flik finds some circus friends to help him save his colony and eventually defeat Hopper.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Pixar doesn’t have a bad movie, but it does have some average ones. This isn’t on the same plane as “Toy Story” or “The Incredibles,” but it’s far better than some efforts like “Cars 2” and “The Good Dinosaur.” Flik is a very enjoyable and relatable protagonist. His appreciation for Princess Atta, his respect for the Queen and his caring for Princess Dot are all wonderful elements to the story.
But this movie’s best elements are its supporting characters and villains. The characters we meet from PT Flea’s circus are amazing. Francis the ladybug, Heimlich the caterpillar, Slim the walking stick, Manny the praying mantis, Gypsy the gypsy moth, Rosie the black widow spider and Tuck and Roll the pillbugs are hilarious. They provide a real circus bug feel while also coming to the aid of the colony and shining as heroes. Meanwhile, PT Flea, an obvious allusion to PT Barnum, is the biggest Pixar role for John Ratzenberger, who has appeared in every Pixar film to date. Ratzenberger has said numerous times that PT Flea was his favorite Pixar role, and I can see why. He gets to show his biggest acting chops in this film and it’s a lot of fun to see.
Outside of the circus supporting characters, the villainous grasshoppers help make this movie. In my opinion, Hopper is the most delightfully evil villain in the Pixar canon. Hopper is pure evil. Sid is a curious kid. Syndrome is a kid who just wants to be like his heroes. Several other Pixar films have no true villain or have a low stakes villain. But, Hopper is evil. He wants the ants to do his work for him. He threatens their livelihood by making them gather food for him before the rainy season. And, he is ready to kill the queen to prove how far he’s willing to go to make them due his bidding. The rest of the grasshoppers are all too willing to follow Hopper’s lead until it stops working in their favor.
This film can be problematic for some. If you don’t know the issues with Kevin Spacey and director John Lasseter, I’m not going to get into them on this forum, but some people may take issue with watching a film involving the pair of them. I’m able to compartmentalize the issues because we didn’t know about those issues in 1998 when this film came out, but I understand some can’t do that. If you can, I would recommend checking out this film as it’s a lot of fun to watch.
Ranking: 3 stars out of 5
What did you think of “A Bug’s Life?”