A Bug’s Life is Pixar’s second computer animated feature film, released in 1998. Directed by John Lasseter (who also directed Toy Story), this film is an adaptation Aesop’s fable The Ant and the Grasshopper.
A Bug’s Life is the story of Flik, an accident-prone ant, who goes in search of bug warriors to help defeat Hopper, the leader of the grasshoppers, in order to save their colony. When Flik accidentally destroys the food the colony had been collecting for the grasshoppers, Hopper demands that their food be doubled by the time the last leaf falls, or else he will destroy the entire colony. Flik offers to go in search of warriors to help defeat the grasshoppers. The colony is happy to see the back of Flik, as his inventions sometimes lead to problems for the rest of the ants. Flik eventually comes across a group of circus bugs who he mistakes for warriors. These circus bugs agree to follow Flik as they too have mistaken him for a talent agent. On return to the colony, the ants are amazed that Flik has returned with ‘warriors’ and the remainder of the film follows the story of these bugs in their attempt to save their colony, and themselves.
Dave Foley as Flik
Kevin Spacey as Hopper
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Princess Atta
Hayden Panettiere as Princess Dot
Phyllis Diller as the Queen
Richard Kind as Molt
David Hyde Pierce as Slim
Joe Ranft as Heimlich
Denis Leary as Francis
Jonathan Harris as Major Manny
Madeline Kahn as Gypsy
Bonnie Hunt as Rosie
Of aMike McShane as Tuck and Roll
John Ratzenberger as P.T. Flea
Brad Garrett as Dim
Roddy McDowall as Mr. Soil (McDowall’s last role).
Flik is the main protagonist of this film. He is an ant who loves to invent but is most of the time seen as a bit annoying to the rest of the colony (apart from Dot who loves Flik). In an attempt to redeem himself, Flik’s main priority in this film is to find bug warriors to help defeat the evil grasshoppers when they demand more food from the ants.
Flik also takes quite a fancy to Princess Atta but a lot of the time makes things worse for himself.
Hopper is the main antagonist of this film. When he arrives to collect the food that the ants have been gathering, he demands that the ants double his order when he discovers that there is no food to collect. He is pure evil and is determined to destroy the colony if he does not get what he wants.
– Princess Atta
She is quite stressed for the majority of the film, and constantly worries about her responsibilities once she takes over as leader of the ants.
All songs featured in this film are written and performed by Randy Newman (who is also responsible for the Toy Story soundtrack). There is only one song on this soundtrack (‘The Time Of Your Life’) which featured vocals, all other songs are instrumental.
This soundtrack won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition.
Honestly, I didn’t really love any of these characters greatly.
Although I enjoyed the scenes where Princess Dot was hopping around, I think my favourite character has to be Heimlich.
Heimlich is an overweight caterpillar who speaks in a German accent. He works as a clown in the bug circus and is constantly thinking about food. This leads the way for some very funny one-liners and he is overall a very comical character. He is especially funny in the scene at the end of the film. No spoilers but for anyone who has seen it, you probably know what I am talking about.
There are a couple of funny quotes in this movie which I enjoyed.
However my favourite is probably when Heimlich says,
“But I am flying! And from way up here you all look like little ants”
The scene towards the opening of the film which shows the circus bugs performing is probably my favourite scene of this film.
It was very comical and had some good one-liners. It also showcased the circus bugs who for me were the best characters in this film.
If you are unaware as to what A113 is, it is an Easter egg (inside joke) that is present in all 13 of the Pixar animated feature films.
A113 stands for the number of the classroom used for graphic design and character animation in the school used by John Lasseter and Brad Bird.
In A Bug’s Life, A113 can be seen as a code on a cereal box.
- During production, the filmmakers became embroiled in a public feud with DreamWorks due to a similar film, Antz.
- The tunnel in a tunnel joke was made in reference to Steve Jobs (CEO of Pixar and Apple) plan for Apple’s “store in a store”. Also, the hand gestures made by Hopper were modeled after gestures made by Jobs.
- The original “teaser” trailer for this film was made up of animation made specially for the trailer and not appearing in the final film. This became a Pixar trademark.
- The pizza van from Toy Story, that appears in every Pixar film, (except The Incredibles) is visible around 25 minutes in, just after the circus scene as the camera pans up.
- The circus wagons are made of boxes of animal crackers called Casey Jr. Cookies. This is also the name of the toon circus train in Disney’s 1941 animated film Dumbo.
- A poster for Disney’s The Lion King: On Broadway can be seen amongst the posters in Bug City.
I knew going into this movie that I probably wouldn’t love it. I remember seeing it when it first came out (when I was about 6) and I didn’t really love it then either. But I was excited to give it a second chance. While the animation is incredible, the storyline (for me) was just okay. I felt myself getting easily distracted throughout this movie which is never really a good sign.
Another factor which I had to take into consideration is the character of Gypsy, the butterfly. Now before watching this, I didn’t realise there was a butterfly in this film (so maybe I wouldn’t have watched it, I’m not sure), but I actually have quite an intense phobia of butterflies. Give me spiders, grasshoppers, snakes, etc. any day, but show me a butterfly and I will panic. Even computer animated butterflies freak me out. This movie was tolerable because for most of the scenes Gypsy was in, her wings were down which helped, but anytime it showed her flying I had to look away. So that is a major contributing factor as to why I didn’t like this film as much as the other Pixar films.
So if you do not have a phobia of butterflies, I recommend you give this film a chance!
Next in this series: Toy Story 2