Pixar's second computer-animated, full-length feature from 1998 had the incredible task of following its first. Toy Story was so beloved by both critics and the public that anything following it was almost doomed to be less successful.
Upon its release A Bug's Life had its detractors, but it succeeded on so many levels that it virtually eliminated comparisons. With a storyline loosely inspired by Aesop's fable of The Ant and the Grasshopper, the feature is centered in the world of insects. The film takes the idea of community into a world that most of us never think of. By giving that world so many distinct personalities and such a lush existence, it becomes a brand new place that no one has ever seen before. It is the idea that the story could be taking place in our very own backyard, coupled with the personalities of the insects, which drives the movie.
Flik is a well-meaning ant who, though ridiculed in his colony for his wacky inventions, nevertheless decides to defend his fellow ants against a group of free-loading grasshoppers. He ventures out and hires what he thinks are "Warrior Bugs" to defend the colony. They turn out to be performers in a flea circus.
Pixar went to great lengths to keep a sense of reality for each insect. A fly who is heckling the circus act is heard saying that "I've been in outhouses that didn't stink this bad." There is a snail who specifically orders a drink without salt. Little touches like this contributed to the film's universal appeal. The actors voicing the characters matched the high standard of the writing. Dave Foley, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kevin Spacey and Phyllis Diller all bring their personalities to the screen. Denis Leary is a standout as a ladybug with identity issues. The feature was directed by Andrew Stanton and John Lassiter. The soundtrack was written by Randy Newman.
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