Culture of Pop

Throwback Thursday: ‘A Bug’s Life’ (1998)

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 1.44.16 PM 2One of the first Throwback Thursdays I did was on the movie Antz, a Dreamworks version of A Bug’s Life. As I previously said, I was much more of A Bug’s Life kid, but I wanted to see if that still held true. So after finally digging up my copy of this week’s Throwback Thursday installment (I knew I had it somewhere), I watched and compared. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Animation: As soon as the opening credits for A Bug’s Life came up I was already noting down that the animation was way better than that of Antz. It was more colorful, unified, and had that nostalgiac essence of a 90’s Pixar movie – which makes sense, since it came out only a few years after Toy Story, the pinnacle of Pixar animation. It was definitely more kid friendly, and more Jeanie friendly as the bugs in this movie looked less like real life bugs and more like stuffed animals you could snuggle up to at night. And for that I award the first point to A Bug’s Life.
  2. Characters: Both Antz and A Bug’s Life have really similar plots. The main ant feels like he doesn’t fit in so he leaves the colony to go prove his worth. Then he returns to the colony to defeat some bad guys and falls in love with the princess. They’re basically the exact same movie. And yet, I liked A Bug’s Life way better. The reason? The characters in A Bug’s Life are considerably more likeable (both the main characters are super annoying in Antz). It’s way easier to sympathize with Flick, who’s a well-meaning fuck up, and Princess Atta, who’s worried she’ll let her colony down. Plus, there’s also some extremely adorable characters like Dot, the flightless younger sister of Princess Atta and Flick’s biggest fan; Molt, the villain’s doofus younger brother; and Heimlich, a hungry caterpillar who can’t wait to become a “beautiful butterfly.” Another point to A Bug’s Life.
  3. Inappropriateness: Something you always look for in a good kid’s movie (or in a bad kid’s movie depending on who you are) is level of inappropriateness. A few well-hidden adult jokes make the movie more enjoyable whether you’re a parent watching it with your kid, or a grown-up kid watching it again like I am. The 80’s and 90’s really tested their limits when it came to this, and some movies ended up being pretty questionable. Antz is definitely more than questionable, with its almost direct mention of sex and frequent use of some of the lesser curse words. A Bug’s Life, on the other hand, toes the line of barely inappropriate and “they’ll never understand it anyway.” Its worst joke is some mild catcalling of a ladybug (who, if you don’t recall, is actually a man). Point to Antz.
  4. Puns: Another thing that makes or breaks a kid’s movie is puns. A good pun in a kid’s movie is sometimes even better than a dirty joke, because anyone can make a dirty joke, but it takes wit to perfectly craft a pun. Luckily for me, Pixar has always reigned as the king of puns, and A Bug’s Life is a goldmine. Actually, if the only scenes that we compared were all the scenes that include Slim, a stick bug and huge pun enthusiast, to the whole of Antz, A Bug’s Life would still win. He’s basically a walking pun. However, the best pun will definitely have to go to the mosquito who walks into a bar and orders a “bloody Mary, O positive.” A Bug’s Life wins again.
  5. Ending scene: As if it weren’t already pretty obvious that Dreamworks intentionally ripped off Pixar during the production of Antz, the very last scene of the two movies are nearly identical. After the day’s been saved and the outcast ants have gotten their own happily ever after, the camera pans out to show Ant Island and Insectopia. It’s done to get one last laugh at how the ants’ world looks to us, and how small they really are. And while I hate to admit it, because Antz shouldn’t get praise for stealing the idea, they do achieve the effect much better. Sorry, A Bug’s Life.
Insectopia from 'Antz'.

Insectopia from Antz.

So there we have it, Antz: 2 and A Bug’s Life: 3. A Bug’s Life is still the reigning champ, which just proves that the boyfriend has picked the wrong side yet again (our thoughts on the better Hunger Games boyfriend constantly divides us). A Bug’s Life is still just as enjoyable today as it was during childhood and it still kicks Antz’s ass. I’m still right, he’s still wrong, and I have only slightly biased proof.

Ant Island from 'A Bug's Life'.

Ant Island from A Bug’s Life.


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