A Bug’s Life: Why not as popular?

©Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I’m sure you have all seen “A Bug’s Life” (1998). It was the second major film by Pixar, about an ant, named Flick, that was different than the rest of the ants. He would invent many useful inventions as well as some not so useful ones. Flick was looked down upon in his ant colony, who every year would gather food for the threatening grasshoppers. Something that I have noticed is that “A Bug’s Life” was the least popular Pixar movie. “A Bug’s life” did gross the least amount out of all the Pixar films, with a displeasing amount of just over $162 million. Because of that I know this film didn’t appeal to the audience as well, but why?

Another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration is what themes are presented in “A Bug’s Life”. A classic theme can be seen in this film that has been taught to us since we were little children, it is to be yourself and pursue your dreams. Even though Flick was viewed as the weird outcast of the ant colony, he stayed true to himself and never gave up on his dream of inventing. Another theme that is displayed in this film (even though it is a rather vague theme) is good versus evil. This one is a little obvious, since it is the theme that the plot is centered around. The good, being the ant colony, finally decides to stand up against the grasshoppers, which is the evil of course. These themes, along with others that are presented in this movie, are brought out very nicely and fit perfectly into the plot, I see nothing wrong with the themes in “A Bug’s Life”.

“A Bug’s Life” had a magnificent plot, full of adventure, humor, danger, and even a little cuteness tied into the movie with Dot and all of the other little kids. This movie seemed to have many qualities that make a great movie, but that’s not even half of it, these qualities need to also be portrayed well, which is the case here. We (the audience) got excited once Flick set off on his dandelion seed on his adventure, we got scared when the grasshoppers crashed through the ceiling, we “aww”ed at little Dot (well atleast I did 🙂 ). I see nothing wrong with the plot of this film.

However, even though there is nothing wrong with the actual plot itself I do see something wrong with the initial idea of the movie. Generally look at the movie itself, it’s about ants and grasshoppers that live on a small island. Think about it, how far can you really take a movie about ants and grasshoppers on an island? Not very far, Pixar did an outstanding job given these circumstances. Every aspect of the movie’s plot was so creative, Pixar took this movie as far as they could, to the maximum. The problem is really that even though Pixar took it to the maximum, the maximum was at a point not high enough for regular standards because of the limited general idea of the movie’s setting and characters (being bugs).

The script of “A Bug’s Life” was cute, cracked a joke here and there. But I see many problems with it. How many times have you heard the phrase “She’s one in a million.”? (when refering to Princess Atta Flick declares “Boy is she one in a million.”) Well I’ve heard it countless times! In the first half hour alone I found many clichés. Another was when Francis (the male ladybug) was annoyed with the flies he remarks “Shoo fly don’t bother me.” Cute, but very cliché, of course in this case they really are flies unlike when this phrase is usually used, but nevertheless it is still cliché.

The script also places the main characters, mostly Flick, in situations that have them crack jokes left and right, and full of to many puns, both of these have what’s going on in the dialogue just come across as being awkward. Like those times when you crack a joke to your friends and they just sit there, while you laugh at your own joke… awkward. Some of the script was cute, but personally I felt like the scriptwriters were trying too hard at comedy.

One last thing that could have harmed this movie’s popularity that I’m sure most of you are aware of, but doesn’t even have anything to do with the movie itself. I’ll give you a hint, it’s another movie, not made by Pixar, and the title is even spelled wrong! (on purpose of course, reason unknown)

Dreamworks and Pixar do tend to compete with each other since they are in the same categories of movies, and both are extremely successful. Somehow the plot of “A Bug’s Life” slipped from Pixar’s secure hands and Dreamworks picked it right up. Which is rumored to how and why Dreamworks made “Antz”, which literally only came out into theatres a month before “A Bug’s Life”. Once this was out of Pixar’s hands there was nothing they could do about an audience that was already tired of ants as main characters by the time their movie came out into theatres, even though “A Bug’s Life” grossed more than “Antz” this still hurt them. How or even if “A Bug’s Life”‘s plot was leaked is not officially confirmed, but it is rumored that former Disney employee, Jeffrey Katzenberg, who left Disney and founded Dreamworks in 1994, is the one who stole Pixar’s idea.

Even though this film already had disadvantages that were out of their reach because of Dreamworks, they still had poor setting and script issues that I believe also held them back. Agree with me? Good, let me know 🙂 Disagree with me? Ok, but why?

Quotes unless otherwise stated taken directly from “A Bug’s Life”. ©Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

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