Seeing the trailers for The Ant Bully was an obvious groan for most people. A Bug's Life and Antz both came out around the same time frame a few years back, and are still fairly recent in most people's minds, yet just from the trailer, it looked like it was more of the same, and less of the different. I have found out since, that it was based off a book, so maybe it was not just a direct rip from previous animated films. I was willing to give it a chance, and I am surprised to say, it was slightly different from the other animated insect films. But not by a whole lot.
The Ant Bully tells the story of Lucas (Zach Tyler), an obviously geeky sort of youngster who has no friends, and is consistently bullied. The bully is bigger than he is, so in turn, Lucas takes his frustrations out on something smaller than he is, a colony of ants living on his front lawn. The ants are clearly getting fed up, and when the wizard ant Zoc (Nicolas Cage) comes up with a potion in order to shrink Lucas, he uses it, and sure enough, Lucas shrinks. Upon being taken to the Queen Ant (Meryl Streep), Lucas is given the ultimatum of having to live and become like an ant, or else he will never go back to his original size.
The movie basically goes on from here, and is generally fun for the most part. It gets really silly at some points, and at others, it really feels like a simple children's film and nothing more. There are obviously a few jokes that all audiences can laugh at, but it feels more geared primarily towards children than it does to an older audience. It has the obvious universal theme of acceptance, but it never really transcends and becomes anything more. It feels much more standard, and by the book. Hell, they do not even waste any time going through the motions, as the movie starts, and the whole plot basically begins right after. It is fairly fast paced, and basically flies through its eighty-eight minute runtime like nothing. Even to the point of not offering real tangible explanations for certain events that occur, that really do not make sense (and for a movie about ants shrinking a kid and making him one of their own, that is saying a lot).
What really hurts the film is how much the audience has already seen in the trailer, and how much of what happens has already been done in other films. It feels a lot more inspired by every other animated film before it, than it does feel like an original film. Granted, the filmmakers do make a valiant attempt at making the film different, it just does not totally work out the way it should.
The CGI animation is fairly colourful in its usage, but nothing too over-the-top. Most of the ants look the same, with a few looking different, and all the other bugs look the same as each other, just infused with lots of colour. There really is nothing too distinguishing about any of the characters, and until you learn the voices, you really have no idea as to who is who. The material really does not make for a whole lot of wacky settings, so the backgrounds stay very much the same as the film goes on. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but it really does not make for anything distinguishing to come from it either.
The voice acting is all fairly well done, from Cage in a more enthusiastic role than he usually gets, to Julia Roberts as the motherly figure (like we could not call that one in advance), to Paul Giamatti as the underused exterminator character. Streep does alright in her basic cameo role, while Regina King and Lily Tomlin put in memorable supporting performances (many of which give the biggest laughs in the film) and youngster Tyler does an admirable job holding his own against the heavy hitters.
But of course, the man himself, Bruce Campbell, puts in the film's undoubted best performance as the overbearing and slightly idiotic Fugax. He reads off his lines with his usual slapstick humour, and even without his likeness, enthuses the film greatly. He plays off everyone with his usual finesse, and he brings a presence to his role that no one else can even attempt to match.
The film, even with its problems, is definitely watchable and is really elevated by Campbell's performance. It is not overly original, but has many entertaining moments. Just do not expect it to fare well against other recent animated competition.
5 out of 10 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.