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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Bug's Life has lots of "good bug-bad bug" cartoon action and some images that could be scary to very young children who have not yet differentiated make believe violence from real violence, or to sensitive kids who are not comfortable with suspense or jeopardy. Scowling, threatening grasshoppers loom over and swarm toward a colony of vulnerable ants, the heroes of the story. The insects contend with fire, rain, predatory birds, as well as the power hungry grasshoppers. Older kids will enjoy the clever humor and the unique view of the insect world, as well as the interspecies conflicts.
What's the story?
In A BUG'S LIFE, when Flik inadvertently loses the food tribute set out by the ants for the predatory grasshoppers, he must find a way to protect his community. In the spirit of The Magnificent Seven, he goes off in search of warrior bugs to fight the grasshoppers. He mistakenly hires a group of unsuccessful vaudevillians from (of course) a flea circus, who think they are being booked for a performance and have no idea he expects them to fight. But they turn out to have just the right stuff to help the ants fight the grasshoppers after all, and Flick gets to prove that he is a hero at heart.
Is it any good?
You'll need to see this delightful movie twice to appreciate the scope of its visual wit and technological mastery. Oddly enough, this wasn't the only computer-animated movie about bugs to come out in the fall of 1998; Antz was released just a month before, and the difference between the two animated bug movies is exemplified by their lead characters. Antz has Z, voiced by Woody Allen as -- well -- Woody Allen, angst-ridden, in analysis, searching for individual identity in a world of conformity. A Bug's Life has NewsRadio's Dave Foley providing his voice as Flik, an All-American ant-next-door type who is inventive, brave, and loyal.
Helped by outstanding voice talent, the rest of the movie's characters are quirky and endearing enough to make you forget they are computer-animated. Lending their voices are Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Phyllis Diller, Kevin Spacey, Spin City's Richard Kind, Frasier's David Hyde Pierce, and John Ratzenberger of Cheers. Antz was largely brown, but this movie uses a paintbox of color to produce stunning images with luminous tones.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the insect world in A Bug's Life. How many bugs can you name? How do bugs communicate in real life? Why do you think ants and bees live in such big colonies? How do they benefit the earth?
Families can also discuss bullies, and how to deal with them. What was Hopper's perspective on power? What did the ants do to combat the bullies? Have you ever encountered real-life bullies?
- In theaters: November 25, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: May 27, 2003
- Cast: Dave Foley, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kevin Spacey
- Director: John Lasseter
- Studio: Pixar Animation Studios
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Bugs, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Communication, Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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