Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Movie Review: The Ant Bully

First a disclaimer: I watched Disney's The Little Mermaid right before watching The Ant Bully. The contrast between the two were jarring and have probably affected my judgment about The Ant Bully. And not to the better.

Lucas is a young boy, small for his age. His mother, who has the most incredibly pear-shaped body I've ever seen in an animated character, calls him "Peanut." He is regularly picked on by the neighborhood bully who specializes in giving "Atomic Wedgies" that rip Lucas's underwear.

Lucas has a teenage sister who is plugged in to her phone or her mp3 player, a dad, and a grandmother who is always losing her teeth. Grandma also keeps electric fans on in her room to keep the aliens away.

Mom and dad, incredibly enough, leave Lucas and his sister in the care of Grandma and go off for a vacation in Mexico. Mom doesn't want to go--or at least, she'd like to take the kids. Dad, on the other hand, sees this as a second honeymoon.

Poof! They're gone.

Lucas, having nowhere to vent his anger and frustration, decides to pick on about the only things smaller than himself: the ants who live in his yard.

The anthill has an aspiring wizard (who knew?) who is trying to use "fire rocks" (have no clue what they are really supposed to be--but he bangs them together and they spark--but they're red, not black like flint) to concoct a potion that will make big things ant-sized. He finally gets the spark he needs and Poof! He has a potion.

The wizard ant, along with his girlfriend ant, decide they are going to Teach Lucas A Lesson. They pour some potion in his ear and Poof! He's ant-sized. Lucas will remain ant-sized until he learns How to Be A Good Ant.

But Lucas has been tricked into signing a contract with an Exterminator.

Will Lucas learn to be a Good Ant?
Will he thwart the Evil Exterminator and Rescue the Colony?
Will the wizard and his girlfriend get together?
Is Ricardo Montalban so hard up for money that he agreed to read these lame lines (albeit in a voice as rich as fine Corinthian Leather)?

If you don't know the answers, then you haven't watched much "kid" fare lately.

I try not to be Paranoid about Liberal Hollywood and Their Agenda. But this movie constantly stressed that Cooperation for the Good of the Colony was Good. Although characters showed some individual initiative, it was either ignored or condemned as "Bad." Except for the Exterminator who was downright Evil and Ignorant, the parents and Grandma were clueless and useless. The teenage sister embodied just about every stereotype of female teenagerdom: mean to her brother, plugged in constantly, mean to her grandmother and parents, totally unsympathetic. About the only cliches that were missing were cheerleading and trips to the mall.

Unfortunately for Warner Bros., the studio behind this movie, Pixar has set the bar very high not only in terms of technical ability in CGI, but in terms of storytelling as well.

Besides, haven't we seen Ants done before?

On the March Hare Scale: Skip this one. Rent The Incredibles or A Bug's Life to see great animation AND storytelling.