Brighter and more colorful than the other animated insect movie of 1998 (Antz), A Bug's Life is the sweetly told story of Flik (voiced by David Foley), an ant searching for better ways to be a bug. His colony unfortunately revolves around feeding and fearing the local grasshoppers (lead by Hopper, voiced with gleeful menace by Kevin Spacey). When Flik accidentally destroys the seasonal food supply for the grasshoppers he decides to look for help ("We need bigger bugs!"). The ants, led by Princess Atta (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), are eager to dispose of the troublesome Flik. Yet he finds help--a hearty bunch of bug warriors--and brings them back to the colony. Unfortunately they are just traveling performers afraid of conflict.
As with Toy Story, the ensemble of creatures and voices is remarkable and often inspired. Highlights include wiseacre comedian Denis Leary as an un-ladylike ladybug, Joe Ranft as the German-accented caterpillar, David Hyde Pierce as a stick bug, and Michael McShane as a pair of unintelligible pillbugs. The scene-stealer is Atta's squeaky-voiced sister, baby Dot (Hayden Panettiere), who has a big sweet spot for Flik.
More gentle and kid-friendly than Antz, A Bug Life's still has some good suspense and a wonderful demise of the villain. However, the film--a giant worldwide hit--will be remembered for its most creative touch: "outtakes" over the end credits à la many live-action comedy films. These dozen or so scenes (both "editions" of outtakes are contained here) are brilliant and deserve a special place in film history right along with 1998's other most talked-about sequence: the opening Normandy invasion in Saving Private Ryan.
The video also contains Pixar's delightful Oscar-winning short, Geri's Game. Box art varies. --Doug Thomas
"Bug's Life", is my favorite full-length film from PIXAR although there are individual character creations from other films like, "Monsters Inc.", that also rate amongst their best computer generated thespians. This film has a great story, and great performances from a host of players including Kevin Spacey, Kevin Foley as Flick, and Phyllis Diller as The Ant Queen. The list continues with Denis Leary, Madeline Kahn, and Roddy McDowall as Mr. Soil.
The extras that are included on the disc are almost worth the cost of the disc alone. Both sets of, "outtakes", are included, and these provide some of the best moments of humor in the film. They are so well done; you get a similar feeling of seeing an actor in a traditional film making an error as opposed to just a computerized character. The fact that these characters don't exist, either means that I get a bit too lost in these films, or PIXAR is that good. I tend to believe it's the latter.
One of the more notable experiences was watching the film short, "Geri's Game", once again. When this was first released in 1997 the realism that was presented was almost hard to believe. Now only 5 years later it not only shows its age, certain aspects look like nothing more than well drawn cartoons. The trees in, "A Bug's Life", can pass for the real item, in the short film, the idea of realism for the trees never occurs. This in no way is meant as criticism, quite the opposite, the folks at PIXAR have continued to push past barriers at an amazing rate so that each subsequent film exceeds the first. I believe you can watch the films and place them in order of release, even if this is the first time you have viewed them.
And PIXAR is showing no signs of slowing down much less pausing, as a look at the trailer for their next film demonstrates. Next Spring, "Finding Nemo", will open, and based on the trailers I have seen, they have once again raised the bar by a factor of 10. This time they will take you to a world created under the sea, and the bits I have viewed will leave your jaw a bit slack.
PIXAR has redefined animation, and are rapidly creating a genre that needs a description all its own, computer animation does not place these creations in their own category, and they deserve one. PIXAR is not the only company producing great computer products, but so far they are the best and most consistent. I don't believe any other studio can state that every single film they have made resides securely in the top 100 grossing films of all time.