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Toon Talk: A Bug's Life Blu-Ray
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
May 20, 2009
Kirby reviews Disney's Blu-Ray release of Pixar's second feature length film, A Bug's Life.
Toon Talk: Disney Film and DVD Reviews
by Kirby C. Holt

A Bug's Life

Disney Blu-ray
MPAA Rating: G

Good Flik

A few months late of its 10th anniversary, Disney/Pixar’s A Bug’s Life makes its high def home video debut this week with the release of a Blu-ray edition that will reintroduce you to the wonderful world of Flik and Company.

Coming on the groundbreaking heels of Toy Story, the world’s first fully-computer animated feature film, A Bug’s Life had a lot to live up to … not to mention prove. As director John Lasseter mentions in the “Filmmakers Roundtable” feature (one of two brand new bonuses on the Blu-ray), a dreaded “sophomore slump” was definitely feared by all involved in Pixar’s second movie. Not only did Bugs (as it was first titled) have to stand up next to its critically adored, blockbuster hit predecessor, it also leapt ahead in terms of technology, tackling as it did such new to the medium aspects as widescreen, crowd scenes and a wholly organic cast of characters and settings.

Re-watching A Bug’s Life in high definition, it is easy to say that all challenges, both technically and artistically, were met with flying colors … literally, as the beautiful blues and lush greens of the film’s color palette pop like never before. Heretofore unnoticed nuances in the character designs are also readily apparent, such as the contours of the various bug faces; for example, I never before realized that Princess Atta had a beauty mark (as all good princesses should).

Also while watching A Bug’s Life again after all these years, I was struck by how well done the story is. Sure, there are the welcome morals of standing up for what is right and being true to yourself, but there are also some surprisingly mature themes hidden among the laughs (of which there are plenty that still hold up today, unlike the dated pop culture references of say, DreamWorks’ Antz). The main conflict between the humble ant colony and the exploitative grasshopper gang has certain political and racial connotations upon closer inspection; one could even liken it to apartheid, with a minority oppressing the majority. Naturally, whether or not such “deep messages” were intended or not by the filmmakers of what is basically a family-friendly enterprise is up to interpretation, but it certainly makes for a compelling analysis of a film that still, like its protagonist, is more than meets the eye.


  •  It’s Tough to Be a Bug, a 3-D animated attraction starring Flik and Hopper, made its official debut on the opening day of Disney’s Animal Kingdom on April 22, 1988, seven months prior to the release of A Bug’s Life in theaters on November 25.
  • A second version of It’s Tough to Be a Bug opened at Disney’s California Adventure on that theme park’s opening day as well, February 8, 2001. Since, it has been joined by a whole Bug’s Land area, including Flik’s Fun Fair, which features such kiddie rides as Francis’ Ladybug Boogie and Heimlich’s Chew-Chew Train.
  • Dave Foley (who originally auditioned for the role of Slim) returned to voice Flik in It’s Tough to Be a Bug, but Kevin Spacey declined to reprise his vocal performance of Hopper, so Bug’s Life co-director Andrew Stanton took over as the nasty grasshopper.
  • Stanton can also be heard in the film itself, along with director John Lasseter; they voice the flies being zapped by the bug zapper.
  • In that same scene, the Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story can be seen parked next to the mobile home.
  • Randy Newman’s jolly score for A Bug’s Life won a Grammy Award and was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. Newman’s end title song, “The Time of Your Life”, was also nominated for a Grammy.
  • The film itself won awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Casting Society of America, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild and the Golden Satellite Awards. It also received nominations from the Annie Awards, the British Academy of Film & Television Arts and the Saturn Awards.
  • High School Musical diva Ashley Tisdale gave one of her first performances in A Bug’s Life, as the lead Blueberry Scout. She originally auditioned for the role of Dot.
  • The film also marked Roddy McDowell’s last performance; he voiced the supervisor ant Mr. Soil.
  • The plot of A Bug’s Life strongly resembles not only Seven Samurai and its American western remake The Magnificent Seven, but also the comedy Three Amigos! A line (“Boy, these folks are sure hard up for entertainment”) is even “borrowed” from the latter.
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