A Bug's Life (DVD, 1999, 2-Disc Set, Collector's Edition) Reviews
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A Bug's Life (DVD, 1999, 2-Disc Set, Collector's Edition)

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Pixar Takes a Look at A Bug's Life

Jun 24, 2006 (Updated Jun 18, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Beautiful animation. Entertaining, cute story.

Cons:Nothing.

The Bottom Line: A Bug's Life helped to establish Pixar as the best in computer animated movies. People that like animated movies should check it out.


Pixar made history when they released Toy Story, the first full length computer animated movie. That movie was very successful and allowed Pixar to continue making more computer animated movies. After recently seeing and loving Cars, the seventh movie from Pixar, I decided to watch all their movies again since I have them in my DVD collection. A Bug's Life, released in 1998, was the second full length animated movie from Pixar.

The ants in the colony on ant island had to spend a lot of time gathering food for an offering for the grasshoppers and their leader, Hopper. One of the ants, Flick, had all kinds of ideas to make things easier for the ants that usually didn’t work right. His latest invention had a little malfunction which messed up the offering just before the grasshoppers arrived. Hopper was furious, stating that he expected twice as much food when they returned at the end of summer. Atta, the daughter of the Queen, had been learning from her mother to take over leading the colony. Atta was in a panic over how they would get enough food for the grasshoppers. Flick believed that the ants should fight back and stand up for themselves. He left the island to search for warrior bugs that would fight the grasshoppers. He ended up returning with a group of circus bugs instead and only found that fact out once they were back at the colony. Flick decided to try to handle the situation without letting the rest of the ants know about his huge goof.

Over the years, several animated movies have featured animals as the main characters. Before seeing A Bug’s Life, I don’t remember ever seeing another one that had an all insect cast. Right around the same time that Pixar released this movie, Dreamworks came out with their own animated ant movie, Antz. I can’t remember which one came out first now. I did see A Bug’s Life first and think it is the better movie. I did enjoy Antz when I eventually saw it. I just didn’t think it was as good as A Bug’s Life. I don’t care for bugs or spiders in general and I still really enjoyed the movie. The characters looked cute and likable for the most part, though the grasshoppers were a little creepy looking.

Hopper and his grasshoppers had been showing up to take food from the ants every year for a long time. Hopper had the ants terrified so that they wouldn’t stand up for themselves and refuse to hand over a large portion of their food. Even the other grasshoppers seemed to be afraid of Hopper. He wasn’t a pleasant character and did make a good villain. Some of what he and the grasshoppers did could be a little intense or scary for younger children. There was action in several scenes throughout the movie that helped to keep things interesting. There was enough going on to keep the movie from being boring. It was mainly aimed at children, but adults should be able to enjoy it as well. The general plot did have elements of an underdog story like many other movies. The story was told in an entertaining way with the unique twist of having all the characters be some kind of insect. I still really enjoyed the movie even though some of what happened was predictable.

A Bug’s Life was funny like most animated movies tend to be. I’ve seen all of Pixar’s movies and all of them have included humor. I didn’t think the movie was as funny as most of the other Pixar movies, though it did still make me laugh. Flick’s invention to help the harvesting looked a little silly and did make me laugh. Many of the jokes came from the circus bugs, like how Francis the ladybug was really a male bug. There were several jokes that involved Slim, a walking stick that I thought were really funny. I thought all of the jokes and humor worked, including the few silly things. Like the other Pixar movies, this one didn’t depend on gross humor for the laughs. During the credits, some blooper scenes featuring different characters were shown. They were very funny and worth watching. Since this movie, the Pixar animators have created similar blooper type scenes for other movies. I love those scenes because they are usually very funny. I am hoping some of these scenes will be on the DVD for Cars since there weren’t any when I saw the movie in the theater.

A Bug’s Life was released three years after Toy Story. During that time, the quality of the animation that Pixar created improved a lot. The lighting and shadows were wonderful throughout the movie, giving things a more realistic look. Many scenes took place outside and featured grass and trees. The grass and trees didn’t look completely realistic but they still looked very good and were an improvement on how those things had looked in Toy Story. The animation was beautiful throughout the movie and helped to establish Pixar as the best in computer animation. Their animation just continues to get better with each movie. No human characters were shown, making this one of only two of the Pixar movies that didn’t at least briefly show human characters. There were a few small references to Toy Story hidden in the movie, which has become standard for Pixar movies. It usually takes many viewings for me to spot the things.

Flick was the main character in A Bug’s Life. He had all kinds of ideas for ways to improve things for the ants around the colony that usually didn’t work out the way he intended. He meant well but had a history of messing up in big ways. The voice that Dave Foley did fit the character. Atta was a nervous wreck about being in charge of the offering for the first time and she was on the verge of panic after it was messed up. She was learning how to take over from her mother the Queen. Atta was very unsure of herself. Julia Louis-Dreyfus did fine with the voice. Atta’s younger sister Dot kept trying to learn how to fly and ended up helping Flick.

The circus bugs had been working together long enough to be like a family and to get into the habit of looking out for each other. They enjoyed performing even though things didn’t go as planned. P.T. Flea, the owner of the circus, was just concerned with how much money he could make. John Ratzenberger has done a voice in every one of the Pixar movies. His part was a bit larger in the Toy Story movies than in the other movies. All of the voices for the circus bugs went perfectly with the characters. Hopper was the leader of the grasshoppers and not a nice bug. He even treated the other grasshoppers badly at times. The voice that Kevin Spacey did for Hopper really fit the character. He sounded menacing in the scenes when he was bullying the ants. Most of the grasshoppers really didn’t stand out. Molt acted like an assistant to Hopper and Thumper acted very crazed and had to be restrained on a leash.

Voice Talent

Phyllis Diller - Queen
Dave Foley - Flick
Brad Garret - Dim
Bonnie Hunt - Rosie
Madeline Kahn - Gypsy Moth
Richard Kind - Molt
Daniel L. Lander - Thumper
Dennis Leary - Francis
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Atta
Hayden Panettiere - Dot
David Hyde Pierce - Slim
Joe Ranft - Heimlich
John Ratzenberger - P.T. Flea
Alex Rocco - Thorny
Kevin Spacey - Hopper

John Lasseter - Director
Andrew Stanton - Co-Director

DVD Information

A Bug’s Life has been available on DVD for several years. My copy has very little in the way of extra features. The movie can be watched in either widescreen of fullscreen. Geri’s Game, an animated short that won an Academy Award, was included along with two sets of outtakes. The first set plays during the credits when the movie is watched. It takes a few minutes for them to start. When I watched the second set, the credits started up again and I had to wait the few minutes for the outtakes to start. There is a two-disc special edition DVD for the movie available that has more special features. I’m not sure exactly what extras that version has.

A Bug’s Life was a very enjoyable movie from Pixar. It featured likable characters, an entertaining story, and beautiful animation. Fans of animation movies, especially those by Pixar, should like this one.

Pixar Movie Reviews
Cars ~ Finding Nemo ~ The Incredibles ~ Monsters, Inc. ~ Ratatouille ~ Toy Story ~ Toy Story 2 ~ Toy Story 3 ~ Up ~ WALL-E ~

Other Animated Movie Reviews
Beauty and the Beast ~ Brother Bear ~ Chicken Little ~ The Emperor's New Groove ~ Home on the Range ~ Hoodwinked ~ Ice Age ~ Ice Age: The Meltdown ~ Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius ~ Lilo & Stitch ~ Madagascar ~ Over the Hedge ~ The Polar Express ~ Robots ~ Shark Tale ~ Shrek ~ Shrek 2 ~ Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas ~ Sleeping Beauty ~ Tim Burton's Corpse Bride ~ Treasure Planet ~ Valiant ~ Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit ~ The Wild ~


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