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A BUG'S LIFE
Review by Sarah Gilliam (11/98)

Release: 1998, Buena Vista
Starring: (voice talents) Dave Foley, Kevin Spacey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Phyllis Diller, David Hyde Pierce, Joe Ranft, Denis Leary, Jonathan Harris, Madeline Kahn, Bonnie Hunt, John Ratzenberger, Hayden Panettiere, Michael McShane, Brad Garrett, Richard Kind
Director: John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton
MPAA Rating: [G]
Genre: Family

An epic of miniature proportions...

SUMMARY

When an army of grasshoppers led by the evil Hopper (Spacey) terrorize a peaceful ant colony, an unconventional ant named Flik (Foley) goes on a quest to find bigger bug allies.

WHAT'S GOOD

A wide cast of celebrities lends their voice talents to this film, making for an entertaining time at the movies, even for adults. In fact, with the likes of Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Newsradio's Dave Foley, Cheers' John Ratzenberger, and Frasier's David Hyde Pierce, the lineup reads like the roster of NBC Must See TV. Fabulous actor Kevin Spacey is particularly good as the leader of the malicious grasshoppers, and comedian Denis Leary lends family approved sarcasm to the mix as a male ladybug named Francis. Also a delight is Jonathan Harris' role as a praying mantis, in which he grandly emotes cumbersome, cantankerous phrases as he did in his days on the original Lost in Space. All around, a very lovable cast of critters...

The animation is fabulous, and is a vast improvement over Pixar's first effort, the Disney hit Toy Story. The animation is so astounding, in fact, that the idea of computer generated graphics never crosses your mind once during the movie. The bugs are cuter here than in DreamWorks' Antz (I even liked Rosie the black widow, and I hate spiders!), and the humor is cleaner, more good natured, and simply a lot more fun.

Whatever you do, don't leave before seeing the closing credits. A sequence of staged, "behind the scenes" bloopers make for some extraordinarily funny moments--and creative, too.


WHAT'S BAD

Unfortunately, A Bug's Life meanders at points--especially in the middle.

Although it was interesting to hear her in such a capacity, I thought it was an odd decision to cast Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld's promiscuous Elaine Benes) as the Princess of the ant colony--she isn't the first person I would envision as the conventional Disney princess. In fact, her voice was so distinct that I expected her character to shove Flik and shout, "Get out!"

The demise of the villain Hopper at the end of the film is somewhat gruesome and may be too graphic for very young viewers.


Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)






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