The Ant Bully (2006)

When we experience misery in our own lives, we look for ways to vent our frustration. When we’re bullied, many of us in anger tend to bully as well, only on smaller individuals than us. “The Ant Bully” is yet another “What they do when we’re not looking” animated film that revolves around yet another microcosm with species learning to survive in our mass consuming intrusive world. Films like the hilarious “Over the Hedge” and the groan inducing “Barnyard” as well as a slew of others dare to demonstrate such a concept.

Sadly though, Davis’ film never examines new territory that the previous “Antz” didn’t already capture well enough. There’s more of an all-star cast, more gags on ants commuting with each other, and more computer animation, but “The Ant Bully” has one considerable advantage: its all-star cast actually contributes to the entertainment. After Lucas is assaulted in front of his house by a group of boys, he decides to take his anger out on the ants. But, one day, after being fed up with his destruction and tyranny on their family, the ants create a new potion thanks to the resident witch doctor Zoc (Cage) who decides to capture “The Destroyer” and shrink him down to their size. Zoc wants to fight him and eat him, but his optimistic girlfriend Hova (Roberts) wants to instead reason with him and call a truce.

What ensues is a massive adventure which Lucas finds himself in the middle of, whether he likes it or not. And then there’s the war with the wasps which he must contend with. One of the fun aspects of “The Ant Bully” beyond its simple story, are the performances, particularly from Nicolas Cage whose moody monotone is gladly missing, in exchange for a more upbeat charisma, while Roberts sickening upbeat attitude is downplayed for a more serene likable heroine who takes it upon herself to guide Lucas. The parade of stars is fun to watch, particularly when you hear folks like Regina King, Meryl Streep, Allison Mack, Lily Tomlin, Ricardo Montalban, and the almighty Bruce Campbell as the courageous blowhard Vogax. Campbell sounds like he’s having a hell of a time, and really picks up the comedic slack with his ant cleft. He’s the stand out here.

If you have to watch this for any reason, watch it for Campbell. Surely, “The Ant Bully” was created for smaller children, so small children will enjoy the adventures of this bully who learns how ants live, and teaches its audience that what goes around comes around. And then there are also the messages of team work, confidence, friendship, understanding, reaching common grounds, stereotyping, and love. For these obvious, sometimes cheesy overtones, the older audiences will surely be alienated and find very little entertainment value. But, if you can’t find the humor in the honeydew scene, then you’re very well made of stone. I enjoyed “The Ant Bully”. Most times these bloated all-star films are just bland as white bread, but this particular film is entertaining because of the parts of the whole rather than the sum; and I just get a kick trying to guess who is playing whom. It’s a fun adventure fantasy, and I was never bored.