|Home Videos: A Bug's Life (1999)
|Written by Ivan Radford
|Tuesday, 24 May 2011 12:01
After last week's brilliant animated swear-fest, I picked something a little more child-friendly from the stash of VHS tapes in my attic: A Bug's Life.
This oft-forgotten 1999 film was the brainchild of Pixar legends John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton, both of whom went on to make bigger, better Pixar movies. Why does this get overlooked by the hordes of Toy Story and WALL-E fans? Well, mainly because it's pretty average stuff. It's not as bad as Cars, but it's hardly a classic.
But this isn't any old Tarzan preview, dear cathode ray watchers: this is a Tarzan preview featuring Phil Collins, in all his Phil Collins glory.
Then we have the obligatory piracy warning, now with added children's voices, saying things like "I can't hear the TV!" and "Mum! The picture's all funny!" over the top of Dumbo. I'd much rather just be shown footage of the classic elephant with the message WARNING: VIDEO PIRACY GIVES DUMBO AIDS.
Then the actual (full-length) film starts. Meet Flik, an insecure and insignificant ant who overcomes his outsider status and ends up saving his entire colony. Sound familiar? That's because it is. It's an awful lot like Antz, Dreamworks' 1998 movie about an insecure and insignificant ant who overcomes his outsider status and ends up saving his entire colony.
It didn't help that Antz arrived just three months before A Bug's Life (November 1998 vs February 1999), but the main problem is that Antz is simply better. One of the rare times Dreamworks have come up with a smarter script than Pixar, A Bug's Life was further hampered by the fact that its lead was Dave Foley. The guy who voiced the Baldwins in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, Dave Foley was no Woody Allen.
While Woody's rare excursion into animated voice work massively boosted the whole insecure ant angle, A Bug's Life could console itself with slightly better critical acclaim. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, Pixar's effort was smiled upon by uncle Oscar, while Antz got a BAFTA nod for Best Special Effects.
But if it's sexy voices you're after, you can't get much better than the villain of the piece. Leader of the grasshoppers that attack the ant colony every year and steal their harvest, Hopper is a big, mean insect with a cruel line in pithy putdowns. Which is why he's played by Kevin Spacey.
Kevin hams it up as Hopper ("Excuse me? Do you think I'm stupid? Do I look STUPID to you?"), selling the evil insect vibe with his snide sarcasm and seductive growling.
Mistaken for strong warrior types, the circus performers are recriuted by Flik to protect the colony from their evil grasshopping overlords. In other words, it's exactly the same plot as Chicken Run - a similarity that gets even stronger when they hatch a plan to build a giant bird.
And if that doesn't rock your boat, there's always Randy Newman to keep you going.
And before you ask, yes - that was totally worth posting twice.