A young boy learns the importance of teamwork and gains self-confidence in this animated feature written and directed by John A. Davis (JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS), and based on the book by John Nickle. Misfit Lucas (Zach Taylor Eisen) doesn't have any friends and suffers daily at the hands of the neighborhood bully. Lucas's mother (Cheri Oterie) might call her 10-year-old "Peanut," but to the ants inhabiting the colony in his front yard, Lucas is "the Destroyer." Lonely and frustrated by his small stature, Lucas repeatedly takes his aggressions out on the colony, leaving the ants running for their lives. Tired of the unprovoked attacks, Zok (Nicolas Cage), an ant wizard, devises a potion that will shrink the Destroyer down to their size so that he can stand trial for his actions. Soon, Lucas is ant-sized and sentenced to live among the ants where he has to learn their ways in order to earn his freedom.^Zok's ever cheerful girlfriend, Hova (Julia Roberts), becomes Lucas's mentor, teaching him the ways of the ant world and helping him gain a whole new perspective. He begins to understand the meaning of teamwork and how working with others can help an individual accomplish great things. He also learns that danger lurks everywhere for an ant: killer wasps, hungry frogs, even sunlight reflected off a mirror can mean certain death. Even worse, before being shrunk, Lucas was tricked into signing a contract with a slimy exterminator, Stan Beals (Paul Giamatti), who will soon be returning to destroy the colony unless Lucas can find a way to stop him. An amusing, smart script and likeable characters are hallmarks of this pleasant romp through a secret underground world. Meryl Streep voices the ant Queen, while Lily Tomlin is Mommo, Lucas's grandmother, and Ricardo Montalban is the Head of the Ant Council.
"[With] moments of inventiveness and wit..." 07/28/2006 p.E10
"[T]he kind of life lessons that usually gum up the fun go down as easily as jelly beans in THE ANT BULLY, an effortlessly clever animated confection..." 08/04/2006 p.47
Sight and Sound
"Stirring classical music accompanies scenes of flying insects swooping in on the ants....The action should appeal to children." 09/01/2006 p.48
"[T]he CGI-created earthbound universe that Lucas is dragged down into is a lively environment full of energy, excitement and cultural heritage..." 09/01/2006 p.112
"[The] details are very well resolved, with fine textures looking very realistic. Colors are vibrant and realistic..." 02/01/2007 p.67
The Ant Bully is a sore disappointment to anyone hoping for a turnaround to the recent downward quality spiral of animated films. In fact, this movie may represent a new nadir for 3D animation. Although it's pretty enough to look at (although nowhere near as exquisitely rendered as Pixar's Cars), the storyline - a cobbled-together stew of moralizing and pointless action sequences - is an insult to anyone with more than a second-grade education. Young kids may find The Ant Bully appealing, but nearly everyone else, including parents forced to sit through the movie, will understand the difference between a "family film" and a "children's film," and why this picture belongs in the latter category. How I long for the days of quality insect-oriented animated entertainment like Antz and A Bug's Life.
Following the mindset of so many recent CG kidpics -- the gabbier the script, the better -- "The Ant Bully" is lovely to look at but a headache to listen to. Visually dazzling cross between "Antz" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" follows a boy forced to live among insects, with extremely noisy and (there's no other word for it) antic results...Davis fluidly orchestrates the pic's games with perception and dynamic shifts in scale (an exploding firecracker, seen and heard first at ground level, then from a human's perspective, supplies more wit than anything in the screenplay). Project reteams the helmer with a number of his "Jimmy Neutron" collaborators, including editor Jon Price and composer John Debney, who wrote the memorably tuneful score.
DVD, Pan and Scan (TV Format), Hybrid, Widescreen, English, French, Spanish, Subtitled, No Longer Produced
Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
An effortlessly clever animated confection.
Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle
Family entertainment at its best.
Stephen Hunter, Washington Post
...an epic adventure with a rigorously moral point of view.
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