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The Ant Bully (DVD)

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Sure, kids might enjoy some aspects of it. But, to tell you the truth, I think they’ll even realise they’ve seen it all before – especially when “Bug’s Life” plays on a constant loop back on the home VCR.


Nicolas Cage, Paul Giamatti, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep

If there’s one thing I can say about most family films of the past few years is that they’ve all considered the parent. You know what I mean?

Yes, there’s plenty of juvenile tomfoolery and irresponsible adventure for the littlies, but for the parent – who has been towed along to the film, when they’d much rather be getting the washing done or making a salad for that weekend’s dinner party – there’s been more and more to enjoy about the family film. Like, well, the over-the-head joke; or the witty in-gag. But besides that, there’s usually a good script. Some kids films – like say last Summer’s D.O.A Disney effort, “Chicken Little” – have an outline, a voice-cast and little more, but more often than not, most of today’s family films are being pruned and polished by some of today’s top screenwriters, or if not one guy, than fifty different writers are collectively on a mission to write the smartest, funniest and most entertaining family film out there. After “Toy Story”, they all feel like they have to. Thank god.

Now forget everything I just mentioned. Take the Delorean back to 1985. Steal the template from one of those lacklustre DTV “Care Bears” movies. Return to the modern day. Hand your notes to Warner Bros.

Presto! “The Ant Bully” is born!

Grrr.

Granted, “The Ant Bully” started out with a little more potential. Aside from the fact that it was Tom Hanks who was championing the film (and served as producer), it was based on a reasonably fun children’s book.

It tells of a youngster named Lucas, constantly picked on by his peers, who decides to take his anger out on an ant farm. Unbeknown to him, one of the ants has magic powers – and magically shrinks him to the size of an ant, and captures him.

Now, besides the fact that we’ve been swimming in ‘ant’ and ‘bug’ movies for the past few years – “Antz” and “A Bug’s Life” were enough cinematic insect to last us a good century – the main problem with John Davis’s “Ant Bully” is that he has forgotten about the parent.

Sure, kids might enjoy some aspects of it. But, to tell you the truth, I think they’ll even realise they’ve seen it all before – especially when “Bug’s Life” plays on a constant loop back on the home VCR.

The script is just weak. Very weak. There’s little excitement. Next to no laughs. And its unmistakably missing a middle act. Sure, the animation looks good and the voice-cast are all OK (Nicolas Cage! Meryl Streep! Julia Roberts! Paul Giamatti!) but all the elements have to be in place before we can go with a movie. And though I can’t speak for an 8-year-old, I can confidently say, he didn’t go with this either.

Since kids aren’t very interested in DVD extras, there’s little reason why additional scenes, animated shorts and a couple of other extras the have tacked onto the disc.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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