out of Five
Running time: 88
Enjoyable, brightly animated adventure with strong characters, superb gags and a script that isn't afraid to throw in a spot of political subtext.
What's it all about?
Lucas (voiced by Zach Tyler Eisen) is always being picked on by the local bully, so he takes out his frustration on the ant colony in his front garden. However, ant wizard Zoc (Nicolas Cage) has a plan and with the aid of a magic potion, he shrinks Lucas down to ant size so that he can be tried for his crimes.
When the benevolent queen (Meryl Streep) sentences Lucas to learn to live as an ant, he finds himself tutored by Zoc's wife Hova (Julia
Roberts) as he helps the ants defend their colony against various attackers. However, Lucas knows that a far bigger threat is on the way, in the form of an exterminator (Paul Giamatti).
Based on the book by John Nickle this is a solid, gripping adventure that quickly transcends its obvious similarities to both A Bug's Life and Antz, even if the ants themselves closely resemble the ants from Antz.
The brightly coloured, storybook animation is superb and there are several inventive gags as well as a number of more risque jokes that will keep adults laughing along with the kids.
Cage and Roberts are both superb and there's terrific comic support from Bruce Campbell as a gung-ho soldier ant and Lily Tomlin as Lucas' bonkers granny. Giamatti in particular has great fun with his character – presumably he was cast early on, because the exterminator is clearly modelled on him.
The only real problem with the film is that the image of a shrunken, naked Lucas being kidnapped by ants might be a bit too traumatic for younger viewers.
This is a hugely enjoyable, frequently funny adventure that doesn't overdo the sentimentality and even manages to make subtle comments about the world we live in. Highly recommended.
The Ant Bully (PG)