Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I hate bratty kids.  Hate ‘em with a passion.  So it took me a while to warm up to Warner Brother’s CGI film ‘The Ant Bully’ (wow.  Another CGI film.  Haven’t seen too many of them this year, have we), but eventually I did warm up to it and found myself having a pretty decent time at the movies.  It’s no ‘Cars’ mind you, but if your child is anything like mine, chance are he’ll love this movie, and that’s who it’s for anyway, now isn’t it?

Life is tough little Lucas Nickle (voiced by Zach Tyler).  The new kid in the neighborhood, he is constantly picked on by the bigger kids for no other reason than he’s smaller than they are.  So in turn, Lucas routinely abuses the anthill in his front yard for no other reason than he’s bigger than they are.  What Lucas doesn’t realize is that the ant hill is a living, breathing, thriving community and every time he turns his water hose on them it wreaks havoc on their system.  But Zoc, the colony wizard (Nicholas Cage) has something special in his spell book forthe being they call ‘Peanut, the Destroyer’.  He’s cooked up a little concoction which shrinks Lucas down to ant size, after which they kidnap and whisk him away to the ant hill.  Zoc wants him dead, but his girlfriend Hova (Julia Roberts) thinks he may benefit from living as an ant and learning the values of team work and family.  The Queen Ant (Meryl Streep) agrees and they begin the arduous task of making the bratty kid a real live ant.

As you can see, there is an awful lot of high quality, academy award winning talent voicing the characters in this one.  Throw in the near legendary Bruce Campbell and

Academy Award nominee Paul Giamatti, were this a live action flick, the salary budget would probably top 100 million.  And as one would suspect, with a cast such as this, the voice acting was outstanding.  But ‘The Ant Bully’ does take a while to find its groove however, and this is mostly because that Lucas is such an insufferable, unendearing, unlikable brat that watching him becomes near torture.   So much so, that when the evil wasp air platoon swarms down on the ant colony, you hope Lucas becomes one of the unfortunate casualties.  But no, he survives.  I understand he has to be relatively unlikable and bratty so that he can be redeemed, but he was REALLY unlikable.  A similar situation that was handled better in my opinion would be Lightning McQueen from ‘Cars’ who was an arrogant, self-centered lout, but still managed to endear himself somewhat regardless of his foibles.  I personally could have done without the first 45 minutes of Lucas.

Ah but here comes the Pretty Woman to save the day.  Julia Roberts as Hova has such a sweet, tender, affecting voice and the character of Hova is so genuine that you take to her instantly.  Also, as the bratty edge in Lucas begins wear away, the movie also picks up its pace a bit and become quite the little adventure story.   Air gliding through house fans, escaping the belly of a bull frog, more attacks by those evil wasps and a big Tora Tora Tora style battle with the evil Beals the bug killer a the end made ‘The Ant Bully’ quite the respectable time at the show.

We all know this CGI animation thing pretty much starts and stops at Pixar.  The first and the last, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega?  How they consistently make great film after great film is a great mystery to me, because I’m sure that if it were simple, all these CGI films would be great, but they are not.  So the hope is that you won’t have to suffer much while taking your screaming, whining crumb snatcher to the movies in-between the Pixar joints, and ‘The Ant Bully’ while not close to the rarified air of Pixar, is still not a bad way to spend a couple of hours with your kid.

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