The Ant Bully (U)



Family (2006)
89mins US

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Zach Tyler Eisen
Director: John A. Davis
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Having suffered at the hands of the local bullies yet again, lonely boy Lucas Nickle vents his frustration on an ant colony by flooding the animals' home. One of the ants, potions master Zoc, vows revenge and he pours a secret concoction into the boy's ear which magically shrinks Lucas. The human child is spirited away to the ants' nest where the queen condemns Lucas to work with the friendly creatures to repair the damage and to learn the meaning of teamwork.

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LondonNet Film Review

The Ant Bully
Adapted from the book by John Nickle, The Ant Bully is a computer-animated fable of triumph against adversity, which promotes messages of teamwork and self-sacrifice and affirms the notion that bullies always get their comeuppance...

Lucas Nickle, as voiced by Zach Tyler and Zoc, as voiced by Nicolas Cage, in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' animated family adventure It's wholesome family fare, skewed largely towards pre-teens, who will giggle and squirm with delight at the sight of the pint-sized hero gorging himself on the ants' favourite treat - honeydew - only to discover it is actually dollops of caterpillar poo.

Toilet humour, even in the highly ordered insect world, never fails.

There will be similar squeals during a brief sequence on a dirty human scalp, where lice chomp furiously on their host's crunchy dandruff. The bright, colourful visuals beg obvious comparisons with A Bug's Life and Antz, and here, The Ant Bully comes unstuck.

John A Davis's film offers nothing new or original; even the climactic battle seems to borrow elements from the previous two films. Having suffered at the hands of local bully Steve (voiced by Miles Jeffrey) and his cronies yet again, lonely 10-year-old boy Lucas Nickle (Zach Tyler Eisen) vents his frustration on an ant colony by flooding the animals' home. One of the ants, potions master Zoc (Nicolas Cage), vows revenge and he mixes a secret concoction that will magically shrink Lucas to their size.

While the boy's parents (Larry Miller, Cheri Oteri) are away on an anniversary weekend excursion, the ants march into Lucas's home and pour the potion into the boy's ear. The human child, nicknamed Lucas The Destroyer by the ants, is spirited away to the nest where the queen (Meryl Streep) condemns Lucas to work with the friendly creatures to repair the damage and to learn the meaning of teamwork.


Aided by nurse ant Hova (Julia Roberts) and a sassy forager called Kreela (Regina King), Lucas learns the error of his human ways. He is soon able to put his newfound faith to the test when the colony comes under attack from dastardly bug exterminator Stan Beals (Paul Giamatti).

Are the tiny ants any match for a human armed to the teeth with poison and will Lucas live to return to normal size and his dysfunctional family, including a grandmother (Lily Tomlin) obsessed with alien abduction?

The Ant Bully builds gradually to its frenetic conclusion, with some diverting set pieces like Lucas trying to escape from the stomach of a greedy frog, or the ants using petals as sails to soar through the air.

Vocal performances seem rather muted. Roberts is so low-key, you fail to recognise the Oscar winner's dulcet tones and Cage is almost monotone. Underlying morals about loyalty and compassion aren't laid on too thick, spiked by a coda that encourages children to litter their lawns with sweets (and encourage ants to run rampant across this green and pleasant land).

The Ant Bully will also be released at selected IMAX cinemas in a special, digitally re-mastered 3D version that fully immerses audiences in the miniature world.

Sophie Abell


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From Friday 13th May
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