NOSTALGIA LANE MOVIE REVIEW: “Antz” is voiced by Woody Allen (Annie Hall, Manhattan), Gene Hackman (Unforgiven, The Royal Tenenbaums), Sharon Stone (Casino, Total Recall ), Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, Escape Plan), Jennifer Lopez (Out of Sight, Maid in Manhattan), Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters , The Blues Brothers), Anne Bancroft (The Graduate, The Elephant Man), Christopher Walken (Seven Psychopaths, Catch Me If You Can), Jane Curtin (Kate & Allie [TV series], 3rd Rock from the Sun [TV series]), John Mahoney (Frasier [TV series], The Iron Giant), and Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon , Predator 2). It was directed by Eric Darnell (Madagascar, Penguins of Madagascar) and Tim Johnson (Over the Hedge, Home), while it was written by Todd Alcott (Curtain Call, The Occupants), Chris Weitz (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, About a Boy), and Paul Weitz (In Good Company, Being Flynn). A neurotic ant named Z (Allen) goes on an adventure that shakes up his colony when he falls in love with their princess.
I’ve been dreading this viewing experience since I began the latest Nostalgia Lane marathon: “Antz.” Why would I put myself through this? Is there any mercy upon myself? Contrary to what I’m getting at, this film isn’t as exscrutiatingly awful as I say it is. However, it is one movie that I will not choose to see again in my life. Why is that? Good question. I believe it has to do with the story’s inability to grip an audience, posing as a flat, cheap man’s version of “A Bug’s Life,” even though it was released a month before in theaters. That rivalry between the two flicks about ants and how it even happened is more interesting than the films themselves. It’s hard not to pick out similarities: a weakling ant wants a chance at the princess, where both of them ripe on their current lives. Observance of how an ant’s life operates is given, with “smart” banter to back it up. They go for a tasteful view, though Pixar was smart enough to actually make theirs fun. “Antz” has its moments, but in its entirety it pales in comparison. Breaking down the story, it’s rather simplistic and bland. Z is essentially Woody Allen in his piece-of-life features, who becomes lovestruck when he dances with the princess ant. From then on, you have an evil general whose motives are spotty, a massacre of a battle that would’ve been better shown in gruesome detail and longevity, and plenty of dialogue explaining how every ant is insignificant and works “for the colony.” We’ve seen these characters and situations in other stories before, but the writers failed to make them any different, which in turn made it a difficult time to actually care about this movie’s theme. What unfolded for the characters felt like the writers went with what blew in the wind, as Z’s adventure was all over the place. You could say he did what he did for the princess, but once he and the princess busted out of the colony accidentally, there were hardly any sparks or romance until the writers actually tried to force it. We all knew they were going to get together eventually and the colony would be saved from any villainy, making it a bummer since I had to sit for over an hour to get to that. Once all the plot devices and arcs are figured out before anything gets done, all we are left with are the characters, who can’t even hold up the weight of their own picture. I guess Z is alright, and his pal Weaver is pretty cool (when is Sylvester Stallone not?). It’s hard to say that anyone was entertaining in this flick though, because of how the dialogue is forced and boring. They try to be funny, and it’s clearly noticeable, however most of the attempts fall flat. Really, the only spectacle of this movie is its voice cast; boy, they got the likes of many big names! Woody Allen, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Dan Aykroyd, Christopher Walken, Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, and John Mahoney. Geez, I’m surprised they all jumped on the wagon; maybe it was the opportunity of voicing in the second attempt at CGI animation. They all did good voice work and did the best they could to bring their characters to life. However, it takes great writing to carry it the extra mile. Animation would’ve done wonders as well. Now, I get it, this came out in 1998; the animation is bound to show its age. But, “A Bug’s Life” holds up better than “Antz.” It may be the software they used or the amount of money that was put into the creation of them. Either way, the evidence is there. All you have to do is watch the films. It didn’t help that I saw this on a worn VHS tape, making on the fine details rather fuzzy. Why my parents never picked this up on DVD, I’ll never know… So, with all of this into consideration, why would I state that “Antz” is not downright awful beyond measure? Oddly enough, I wasn’t writhing in my seat at the blandness of this flick. Like I said earlier, it has its moments, while few and spread out they may be. Also, it’s nice to watch this from a time capsule standpoint. Reliving this at my older age made for an interesting experience in itself, and thankfully that feeling encapsulated the movie, making it better than it would’ve been otherwise. The best way to describe this film would be that it’s the first “Bee Movie,” but with Woody Allen instead of Jerry Seinfeld, and ants instead of bees. Both are observances of the insects’ lives, and involve a comedic character of some sort. But, just like its comparison with “A Bug’s Life,” “Antz” loses out to its opponent on grounds of quality. If you are interested in seeing this, I don’t see the harm in watching it. Just don’t blame me when you realize you’ve wasted over an hour of your time. FINAL SCORE: 53%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: