The Pitch

An ant with big ideas tries to protect his colony from a grasshopper mob. (1 hr 36 min)

Age Recommendations

Watch With the Kids: 5+ Common Sense Media: 5+

Content Advisories

Rated G. Hopper, the head grasshopper, is fairly menacing, as is his feral henchman, Thumper. Immolation humor. Child endangerment. Child bugs draw gruesome pictures of slain and decapitated bugs. Giant bird. Giant raindrops.

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07.05.14

More Movies Like This

There’s Antz, I guess, for older kids. But for similar movies featuring an ensemble of quirky, funny characters, I’d steer towards the Muppets.

Francis, you're making the maggots cry

In computer-animation, no image exists in the real world. What we see is created in code, rendered through millions of mathematical calculations. And yet in 1998 as I watched A Bug’s Life. what my inner film nerd most wanted to know was who was the film’s director of photography (Answer: Sharon Calahan). Because I’d never seen anything like the translucence of the leaves and grass and the quality of light (most notably in the golden-hour construction of the decoy bird device). For its second feature Pixar worked hard to prove Toy Story hadn’t been a fluke, through its lighting, its feeling of scale (for which it drew inspiration from the documentary Microcosmos), and the quality of its character design—both the friendliness of the insect and arachnid faces and the distinctiveness of their voices: Dave Foley, Kevin Spacey, Richard Kind, Brad Garrett, Bonnie Hunt, Phyllis Diller, John Ratzenberger, Jonathan Harris (Dr. Smith from the TV show Lost in Space), Roddy McDowall. Even very young kids will remember the wide-eyed ladybug with the voice of Denis Leary, and the nervous stick bug with the voice of David Hyde-Pierce, and the always-hungry caterpillar with the jolly German accent voiced by Pixar writer Joe Ranft. (They will not remember Julia Louis-Dreyfus or Madeline Kahn, both wasted in underdeveloped “girl” roles.) The slightly overstuffed result remains tremendous fun. And while it didn’t earn even a direct-to-video sequel, A Bug’s Life can claim its own gorgeously-designed section inside Disney’s California Adventure theme park, which immerses visitors (particularly young children) inside of its gigantic tiny world. —Chris Ereneta

Edited & designed by Chris Ereneta. Suggestions, feedback, and rants welcome at watchwiththekids@gmail.com, @WatchWithKids, or on Facebook. More about this site.