The second feature film from Pixar, and the second movie this season to document the antics of a group of zany ants, A Bug's Life tells the story of a lovable ant (Dave Foley) who accidentally disrupts the balance of power between his peaceful colony and its grasshopper oppressors. To save face, he recruits a colorful band of insect circus performers to fight off the fierce, warlike grasshoppers, in the process bringing joy and hope to his otherwise grim surroundings. Like Toy Story, Pixar's previous computer-animated outing, A Bug's Life is both an extraordinary technical achievement and a notable artistic accomplishment. Though deliberately vague as a political allegory—the oppressive grasshoppers could represent Stalinists, fascists, or cutthroat capitalists—A Bug's Life is still smashing family entertainment: The whole thing is quick-witted, fast-paced, and loaded with clever sight gags and colorful, engaging supporting characters. Kevin Spacey, as the snide, arrogant leader of the grasshoppers, is the obvious standout, but he's joined by an ace supporting cast that includes Jonathan Harris as a wonderfully theatrical praying mantis and the unctuous David Hyde Pierce as a neurotic stick bug. A Bug's Life isn't a great film—it remains to be seen whether a computer-animated movie can fully convey the psychological depth that distinguishes a few Disney masterpieces—but it's always amusing, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. Perhaps best of all, the filmmakers excluded the obligatory musical numbers, a wise move given the lame songs that have marred the otherwise-fine Toy Story and Mulan. Stick around through the credits for what is probably A Bug's Life's funniest gag: a series of "outtakes" featuring the cast flubbing lines, bumping into the camera, and generally behaving in a non-animated fashion.
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