ANTZ (1998) 

Woody Allen
Sharon Stone
Sylvester Stallone
Gene Hackman
Christopher Walken
Jennifer Lopez
Anne Bancroft
Danny Glover
Dan Aykroyd


Eric Darnell
Lawrence Guterman



Time: 77 mins.
Rating: PG
Genre: Animation/Family/Comedy

Ever since I saw the trailer with Woody Allen on the psychiatrist's couch as an ant, I was hooked. Who better to rant about the neuroses of an insignificant creature than the ultimate slub? He was made for this part, the story of Z, a worker ant unhappy with his place in the world...pushing dirt for the good of the colony. He wants more out of life, to be in charge of his own destiny. When he meets a new girl at the worker bar – who just happens to be Princess Bala (voiced by Sharon Stone) slumming – he finds himself in love. She's different from the other girls and he pulls out all the stops to impress her. Unfortunately, he's not a very suave ant, but she thinks he's cute anyway. Z discovers her true identity during a bar fight, which he starts by dancing out of line, and is convinced that if they could just meet again, she would return his feelings.

Needless to say, his plans go completely awry after he trades places with his best friend, Weaver, a soldier voiced by Stallone. Instead of just pretending to be a soldier during a routine military parade, he is sent into battle with the rest of the Queen's forces. He returns a hero because he's the only one who survives, which is due to his incompetence, not his bravery. Of course, no one else knows that. The acclaim goes to his head and instead of playing cool, Z tries to impress the princess, who tells the Queen and the General, her fiance, that Z is not who he claims to be. When they try to arrest him, he attempts to use the princess as a shield to escape.

Unfortunately, she fights back and they both end up running for their lives in the outside world. Z and Bala learn to work together in order to survive the dangers they now face. After experiencing life outside the palace, Bala comes to appreciate Z's resourcefulness and individuality. She even begins to fall in love with him. But the General has other plans and they are soon forced back to the colony to fight for the lives of every ant.

"I'm supposed to do everything for the colony? What about my needs?"

In the end, Z realizes that you have to balance your need for individuality with the greater needs of your society. Both are necessary to find happiness. This is not an overly preachy film, but it does get it's point across. As creatures we cannot survive on our own, but we also need to be appreciated for who we are and what we can contribute. Lest one think it's too deep for children, don't worry, there are plenty of action sequences and jokes to keep them amused.

Lucky for us the film is clever, so adults will be amused as well. Though the script is witty and fun, the best thing about this film is the animation. Completely computer animated, it is stunning to behold. It's sharp, colorful and dynamic. They create a stunning, multi-layered three dimensional world that's a delight for the eyes. All the individual character ants have the characteristics of their human counterparts while still looking like bugs. The actors were all perfectly cast and really brought their roles to life. The fact that there was no bursting into song in the middle of a scene was quite refreshing. ANTZ proves that an animated film doesn't have to have goofy sidekicks and musical numbers to be compelling and entertaining. Score one for Dreamworks.

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