Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
As ants struggle to gather morsels of food, a leaf falls and interrupts their procession. "I'm lost!" screams a worker in panic. "Where's the line?" Rescue workers quickly arrive: "We are going around to the left!" The harvest continues. "This is nothing compared to the twig of '93," an ant observes.
Enjoying this, I enjoyed too the use of animation to visualize a world that could not be seen in live action and could not be created with special effects. Animation contains enormous promise for a new kind of storytelling, freed from reality and gravity, but although the Japanese have exploited that freedom, too many American feature cartoons follow the Disney formula of plucky young heroes and heroines and comic sidekicks.
It's a formula that has produced wonderful movies. But the Pixar computer animation studio, a Disney co-producer, broke new ground with "Toy Story" in 1995, and now with "A Bug's Life," it runs free. The story, about an ant colony that frees itself from slavery to grasshoppers, is similar in some ways to the autumn's other big animated release, "Antz," but it's aimed at a broader audience and lacks the in-jokes.
The film's hero is Flik (voiced by Dave Foley), the smartest ant in the colony (the competition is not fierce). As the other ants labor to pile up "The Offering," a mountain of food for tyrannical grasshoppers, Flik perfects an invention to harvest grain more quickly; he's the Cyrus McCormick of the hymenopterous Formicidae. But he's still basically just an ant; the film is more about the fate of the colony and not so much about individuals like the Woody Allen hero of "Antz." There is a crisis. Flik spills the Offering, and Hopper (Kevin Spacey), the leader of the grasshoppers, is not pleased. Hopper has the kind of personality that makes him talk with his hands, and since he has four, Flik gets the message: Rebuild the Offering or face unspeakable consequences. What to do? Flik feels terrible because his clumsiness caused the trouble; he apologizes to the Queen (Phyllis Diller), is encouraged by Princess Atta (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Mr. Soil (Roddy McDowall), and resolves to fight back.