Toy Story didn’t just take the world by storm, it was the storm. Even though we always get movies meant for little more than marketing, Toy Story had the substance to make many of us forget that. So when the insect-focused follow-up, A Bug’s Life, took to the big screen, similar quality was expected. And while this is another quality release, it ranks quite low on my ordering of Pixar films.
The story is essentially one of outcasts; Flik is the creative oddball, Dot is the somewhat rebellious child hoping fly, the princess is facing the pressure of one day leading the colony, the circus bugs are working out of their familiar yet unsuccessful environment, etc.
Our villains are a group of grasshoppers, led by Kevin Spacey, trying to keep the ants in their place. Like the ant colony, only a couple or so of the grasshoppers stand out, since a decent chunk of the movie is saved for the circus bugs. These characters are really what made the film for me, since the rest of the characters just felt too conventional and left very little impression on me. And when you miss out on that, the film loses a lot of its impact. Yes, the story works and there’s nothing necessarily “wrong” with the characters, it just isn’t very fascinating, a few visual moments aside.
In a way the circus bugs are the film’s saving grace and precisely why I’d come back to watch it again. My favorite would probably have to be the ladybug, partly because he’s given more time and has so many memorable scenes. And while I can recall almost every moment from the film, this is more out of how many times I had to watch it as a kid, as opposed to its actual memorability. If I’d only seen it a couple times, the circus bug scenes would probably be 95% of what I’d recall.
The number of people either satisfied or disappointed by A Bug’s Life seem to be about equal. It’s sort of fallen out of most people’s memories, and that’s not without reason. Compared to Toy Story and especially many other Pixar films, this one doesn’t have much to help it stand out. Don’t get me wrong, this is far from a bad movie, it’s just a very conventional one. Some people think the film deserves a sequel, and while I’m open to the idea, the movie wraps up in a way that we don’t need a revisiting. Then again, I’d say the same thing about most Pixar films, except for The Incredibles, so that shows where my word goes.