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Antz (1998)
Rated PG13

Starring: The voices of Woody Allen, Sylvester Stallone, and Gene Hackman

Rating:
****1/2
out of
*****

The first of Hollywood's computer animated bug movies has arrived in theaters. Dreamworks' Antz proceeds A Bug's Life, from Disney, by almost two months. One shouldn't confuse the two. Antz is aimed squarely at adults, while A Bug's Life is targeted directly at children, with a little humor to keep things interesting for the parents of those members of the all-important merchandising demographic.

Antz tells the story of a young, neurotic ant named Z-4165 (voiced by Woody Allen). It seems he is a little insecure with his place in the colony and wants to distinguish himself somehow. One night in a bar for the workers of the colony, Z overhears an old, grizzled ant speak of Insectopia, a land where food is plentiful and the "sacrifice-for-the- good-of-the-colony" mentality doesn't exist. Z desperately wants to find Insectopia, but is discouraged by his friend, Weaver (Sylvester Stallone), a soldier ant.

As Z ponders the idea of leaving the colony, Princess Bala (Sharon Stone) enters the bar for a little excitement. She feels a little suffocated by the responsibilities of being engaged to the colony's military commander, General Mandible (Gene Hackman), and feels a need to see how the workers have fun. Noticing Z sitting at the bar, she asks him to dance. After she leaves, Z is smitten to the extreme.

He strikes a deal with Weaver to switch places for a day, so that he can take part in a parade that passes by the palace. Z feels it is his only hope for seeing Bala again. Unfortunately, the parade is to celebrate the beginning of a war with a local termite colony, and Z has unwittingly enlisted himself to take part in battle. Eventually, as a result of his switch with Weaver and his pursuit of Princess Bala, he becomes a threat to General Mandible's evil plot for the colony's future.

Antz is a genuinely sweet and funny film. The list of voice talent is impressive and is a good indicator of the quality of the overall movie. With names like Dan Aykroyd, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken, Jane Curtin, Danny Glover and Anne Bancroft in supporting roles, you'll have as much fun picking out who does what voice as you will enjoying the story. Granted, the plot isn't exactly original, but the film moves along at a good clip and remains consistently watchable from beginning to end.

Clearly, this is light entertainment, but it's refreshing to be able to immerse one's self in a world so detailed and enjoyable as the computer generated ant colony found in this film. Antz' animation is so well-done that you almost forget you're watching what amounts to a fancy, high-tech cartoon. Some of the scenes involving heights are so realistic that they actually made me a little dizzy.

Anyone dismissing Antz as a kid's flick solely on the basis of it being an animated film is missing a treat of a movie. If you're guilty of doing so, redeem yourself by going to see it.

Trivia: Woody Allen was offered accompaniment to sing "Almost Like Being In Love", but he refused, preferring to sing it a capella, and did so. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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