THE ANT BULLY (John A Davis). 80 minutes. Opens Friday (July 28). For venues and times, see Movies, page 107. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Despite the fact that two computer-animated films about ants already exist (1998's Antz and A Bug's Life), writer-director John A. Davis thought the world needed another morality tale told through insects, and he was right. This charming adaptation of John Nickle 's book is a welcome addition to the talking pest subgenre.
10-year-old Lucas (voiced by Zach Tyler Eisen ) is the new kid in town and the target of a neighbourhood bully. After taking his frustrations out on a lawn's ant population, one of the insects ( Nicolas Cage ) magically shrinks Lucas to show him what it's like to live in constant terror. The miniature boy learns requisite life lessons as he joins the ants to defeat the colony's real enemy, a greasy exterminator ( Paul Giamatti ).
The film moves quickly, and has enough adult references to keep parents awake. The voice talent is also Pixar-quality, with Cage suitably intense, and cult actor Bruce Campbell showing up midway through as a macho soldier ant. Unfortunately, the script hammers the film's message of tolerance and teamwork too insistently, often undermining the story's momentum.
Animated features seem to have drained the well of talking creatures (I vote for hip, rapping amoebas next), but Davis's playful animation and well-cast ensemble helps The Ant Bully avoid over-familiarity.