Culture > Movies

Consider the ant

Movies | CGI film offers a lesson in communal living

Issue: "Living a legend," Aug. 19, 2006

Morality tales about ants should have great potential. Proverbs explicitly recommends the ant for working and saving while humans tend to doddle and spend. But that's not the life lesson that the CGI-animated Ant Bully (rated PG for some rude humor and action) aims to teach.

Rather, Ant Bully portrays the colony as the ultimate commune, replete with selfless members and groupthink. Ants, according to the movie, never leave an ant behind. They are not insects; they are Marines.

When a young boy named Lucas sprays down an ant mound in his front yard, an ant wizard devises a way to shrink him down to ant-scale and make him spend time walking in his exoskeleton. There Lucas learns about ant customs, but also that ants have feelings, too. Once properly ashamed of being human, the boy gains the ants' trust and helps them defeat the greatest of all evils, the exterminator.

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His coming of age arrives when he gazes at his city's skyline and realizes that the market economy is ultimately selfish. Lucas misses the opportunity to scoreboard the ants who, after all, still believe in wizards, appeasement, and a United (Insect) Nations approach to self-preservation.

But those are thoughts that may only pass through an adult's mind. Children, meanwhile, may balk at the film's jumbled plot, or complain that they already saw Ant Bully when they watched A Bug's Life and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

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