Review: The Ant Bully
Animated features attract bad writing like MySpacians attract stupid hair cuts. This is probably why I have a hard time convincing my fellow Bingers to see movies like The Ant Bully. These films are geared towards pre-teens (or younger) and the studios figure that good writing would be wasted on them. Pixar has proven this theory wrong on several occasions, but I'm guessing it's cheaper/easier to write schlock. So I can't blame my compatriots for fearing this film, but I'm glad I bit the bullet and saw The Ant Bully; it wasn't half bad.
The story follows in the tradition of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, as a young boy (Lucas) is shrunk by a member of an ant colony who views him as "the Destroyer" due to his tension-relieving outbursts on their ant hill. While shrunk to the size of an ant, Lucas must learn to live like his captors or be eaten by them (I think Bush offered this scenario to the Iraqis). Through the help of Hova (Julia Roberts), Lucas sees that these talking ants are alright and manages to help save them from the exterminator (Paul Giamatti).
The plot was a little plain jane, but that was the way to go. Instead of trying to make up for a simple storyline with zany characters and poop jokes (okay, there was one poop joke but it was funny), writers John A. Davis and John Nickle stayed strong and told a pleasant story. Immediately, I felt empathy for both Lucas and the colony, hoping that the boy would learn the value of teamwork and importance of self-confidence so he could overcome the neighborhood bully, allowing the colonists to continue their bustling lifestyle. Contrast this with Barnyard and it's endless barrage of dumb jokes and a plot barely suited for a 30 minute program (a full review is coming tomorrow), and you'll realize that Ant Bully's a pretty darn good movie.
Unfortunately, the rating of "pretty darn good" is an average of two scores -- the ones I'd assign for adult and kid audiences. While I think 10-12 year olds will absolutely love this movie, I don't know how many of my friends would appreciate it. Sure, it's well written and the characters are easy to love, but it's just not designed for people over the age of fifteen. I have no problem with that, in fact it's slightly refreshing (but that's probably because many say I have the emotional age of a 13 year old). In the end, I'm thankful for any film that can hold my full attention for 90 minutes and The Ant Bully makes it look easy.