Bully beats up dork, dork beats up ants, ants shrink boy and beat him up emotionally. The Ant Bully is what happens when a dork grows up and writes a book, which turns into a movie. On that note, I’m busily writing the sequel.
The Ant Bully follows the story of Lucas Nickle, a nerd who gets beat up by a bully because he’s short and, in turn, picks on ants because he’s bigger than them. Of course, in this glossy CG world, the ants can talk and reason. When wizard ant Zoc discovers a potion that can shrink Lucas (a.k.a. The Destroyer), Lucas is cut down to size and learns a valuable lesson on how to treat others.
For an adult, watching a movie geared and marketed toward kids is a bit pointless. Fortunately for the Ant Bully, its demographic audience isn’t going to notice the theme bashing them over the head. Every two minutes, some character reminds Lucas that it’s not nice to pick on other people. Lucas learns this lesson within 10 minutes of being shrunkified and the theme goes stale with an hour of the movie left.
In the days of Shrek and Pixar films where the “kids” movies are filled with enough innuendo for “grown-ups,” it’s refreshing to see a movie that isn’t constantly winking at its audience. Like the McDonald’s Happy Meal, it’s apparent that this film is not something for a person with “grown-up” tastes. Unfortunately, neither the characters nor the animation has enough charm to keep anyone over the age of 10 mildly entertained. Though, some of the voice actors, namely Bruce Campbell as Fugax, provide the occasional reprieve from boredom.
Perhaps the most interesting tidbit isn’t the film itself, but rather its premise. From The Incredible Shrinking Man to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, a shrinking character, more than likely, equates to humbleness. Yet, insects always seem to make an appearance in these films. In The Incredible Shrinking Man, the protagonist spends the majority of his time avoiding a spider, while Honey, I Shrunk the Kids features a flight on a bumblebee, a scorpion attack and a friendly ant. In the Ant Bully, the insects can talk, reason and crack lame jokes.
All in all, the Ant Bully has a positive message and is a fine film for kids. Adults will want to skip this one, even if they have an affinity for over-stuffed CG films. The constant vocal reminder of the film’s moral is almost too much to bear.
While the film itself might not be much to write home about, the DVD is a decent package. First and foremost, the anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer is the stuff video dreams are made off. There’s hardly a single flaw in the visuals, and it’s a great demonstration of why to hold out on buying an HD format. The audio is more hum-drum, run-of-the-mill Dolby Digital 5.1 -- hardly exciting, yet not disappointing.
In the way of bonus material, seven animated shorts are the best part of this package, film included. These shorts offer more wit and humor than the film and are highly entertaining. From a personal note, I can’t imagine watching the film again, but I watched some of these shorts twice. Definitely check this out once your kids are done watching the movie.
The additional scenes are mildly interesting, but the fact that the CG is unfinished is a bit distracting, making them hardly worth watching unless you are a huge fan of the film. The “It Takes a Colony” featurette is a creative presentation of a basic “making of.” Generally, CG movies have the most boring “making of’s” that usually feature people sitting at a computer. But the integration of the CG characters as interviewers makes this one watchable. Finally, the Ant Habitat TV Screensaver is confusing and useless.