Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

This film seems determined to get watched by me, as often as possible.

In 2000 I first caught about ten minutes of it at a UK ciné convention, where some bright spark had synced-up the pictures from the Super 8 release with the 5-channel surround sound of the DVD one. Alas, the acoustics of the hall didn't really do it justice.

Then in 2004 it was showing on one of my UK/NZ flights, following which I saw it on the telly in Britain. I've also since seen it just starting on TV in NZ.

So this morning I sat down to enjoy the whole thing all over again, which must surely be a good sign.

As usual with Pixar, the story and characters are quite fun and easy to follow, and the cast seem to have been a big part of that. Jonathan Harris absolutely relishes his role as Manny the praying mantis.

I do think the plot is a bit confusing as, even having seen it before, I actually found myself rewinding the tape a couple of times to get what was happening. Flik's (Dave Foley) reason for thinking that the circus insects are warriors was initially lost on me, as was their counter-belief that they were being booked to perform a show. This misunderstanding is the story's funniest gag, upon which so much of the subsequent comedy hinges, so in retrospect I think it's a good job that I never watched this in the cinema.

Not sure if this is a plus or a minus, but it's also a rare Pixar film in which the villain is implied to die at the end. (ignoring either sequence of out-takes)

The animation hasn't aged well, ironically making everything look like a Dreamworks production, but it is still perfectly serviceable. When Flik returns to the colony, apparently having completed his mission to find some big tough warriors to save everyone, the look on Princess Atta's (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) face is absolutely priceless:

Just how many conflicting feelings have they got this single expression convey?

There was a gag in the closing credits of Toy Story 2 regarding a possible Bug's Life sequel, and it's a shame this never came to pass.

Available here.


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