A Bug's Life is the second computer-animated film from Pixar. It's something of a twist on the fable "The Grasshopper and the Ant" meeting The Seven Samurai with a bit of ˇThree Amigos! thrown in for good measure.The movie begins in a peaceful ant colony, which yearly is terrorized by a biker gang-esque group of grasshoppers (led by the intimidating Hopper), and the ants are forced to give them an offering of food. One year, an ant named Flik (considered a nuisance by the rest of the colony due to his inventions, which often cause more trouble than they're worth) accidentally destroys the offering. Hopper forces the ants to create a replacement offering, twice as large, giving them until "the last leaf falls" to comply. The ants, who need that time to store food for themselves to survive the winter, fear that Hopper's demand could ruin the colony. Flik volunteers to redeem himself by recruiting "tough bugs" to fight Hopper and his gang. Seeing nothing more than an opportunity to get Flik out of the way so he doesn't mess anything else up, the colony's ruler-to-be, Princess Atta, gives him her blessing.Flik travels to "the city" (a bug city underneath a trailer), where he meets a bunch of recently-fired circus bugs. After seeing them perform, he mistakes them for warriors, and takes them back to the colony. The circus bugs are initially shocked when they find out why they're there, but eventually begin to love living in the colony, and agree to help Flik come up with a plan to defeat the grasshoppers. Will this be the invention which finally succeeds? Or will Flik's usual bad luck continue, leaving the colony to face the wrath of Hopper and his gang?A Bug's Life, like most Pixar films, was a critical and financial success, and, with its Hilarious Outtakes, also started the Credits Gag tradition in Pixar movies. It did not, however, receive the universal acclaim of Toy Story. Its Rotten Tomatoes grade is the fourth-lowest of any of their films, at a rating of 91% (only Cars, Cars 2, and Brave have lower grades). Due to this, it is not as widely remembered as their other films and is considered their most underrated.Still, 91% eh?
A Bug's Life contains examples of:
Adorkable: Flik, in spades. Especially thanks to some really wonderful character animation.
Alas, Poor Villain: As how vile as he may have been, its hard not to feel a bit of sympathy for Hopper given how gruesome his demise (being eaten alive by birds) is. Even Flik is terrified when he is about to die.
Anyone Can Die: Played with in the form of the junior ants. First they make a painting of the good warrior bugs and bad grasshoppers battling, and they painted one of the good guys dead because their teacher said it would be more realistic that way. Then they perform a play of the battle, in which apparently everyone dies.
The scene where they show them the paintings becomes a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, as the one they depicted dead was Heimlich, who was voiced by Pixar mainstay Joe Ranft. Ranft passed away in 2005.
As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Tuck and Roll speak complete gibberish. While their nationality is left ambiguous in the film itself, some promotional material refers to them as Hungarian.
The closed captions for the DVD say "Speaking Foreign Language."
Bullying a Dragon: While the grasshoppers are much bigger than the ants, the ants are far more numerous, and by the end of the film they just decide they've had enough, stand up to them and force them to run away. Hopper was Genre Savvy about this, bullying them to make sure they stay intimidated, knowing that if the ants were to stand up to him together, then there would be nothing he could do about it.
Carnivore Confusion: Tons. The spider and the praying mantis get along just fine with the other bugs, though all bugs are afraid of birds. The outtakes reveal that the bird is non-sentient (because it's a giant mechanical prop).
Darkest Hour: The colony brought it upon themselves by ostracizing Flik and P.T. Flea's entire circus when the truth about the "warriors" was revealed. They're accepted again when they become Big Damn Heroes (P.T. Flea's circus by putting on an act for the grasshoppers and rescuing the Queen from being squished by Hopper by way of Manny's magic act, and Flik by unleashing the bird he, the circus, and the rest of the colony built to scare the grasshoppers).
Maybe this scene will remind you of something less sexual and more political.
Hopper: You let one ant stand up to us, then they all might stand up! Those "puny little ants" outnumber us a hundred to one. And if they ever figure that out, there goes our way of life! It's not about food. It's about keeping those ants in line. That's why we are going back!
Atta: Not every bug would face a bird. I mean, even Hopper's afraid of 'em. Flik: Yeah, well you know it was... (beat) Say that again. Atta: I said, even Hopper's afraid of birds…
Also the moment during the big confrontation when Flik realizes exactly what Hopper had been hoping the ants would never put together (namely, how badly they outnumbered the grasshoppers, rendering the latter's individual physical advantage moot).
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Apparently the only reason Hopper hasn't killed his brother Molt yet. It seems she made him promise her on her death bed that he wouldn't kill him - possibly because she knew he'd do it if he didn't promise. Also involved in a Crowning Moment of Funny.
Hopper: I swear, if I hadn't promised mother, on her death bed, that I wouldn't kill you, I would kill you! Molt: And believe me, no-one appreciates that more than I do. Hopper: Shut up! I don't want to hear another word out of you while we're on this island. Do you understand me? (Molt whimpers) Hopper: I said, do you understand me?! Molt: Well, how can I answer? You said I couldn't say another word! (Hopper growls with increasing rage and raises his fist) Molt: Aah! Remember Ma! (Hopper spins around and punches another grasshopper to the ground)
Even the Dog Is Ashamed: Averted; after Flik wound up ostracized by the colony for hiring circus bugs to defend them, Dot is the only one who still believes in him - and is the one who, after hearing the Queen's life was in danger, snaps him out of his Heroic BSOD.
Executive Meddling: For the confrontation in the bar, Pixar's animators had planned out a large, anime-esque sequence, not unlike the one later seen in the movie Horton Hears a Who!. Disney suits didn't understand the scene as it was laid out to them, and the gag was reduced to Francis saying, "Shoo, fly, don't bother me."
One of the Fly Brothers to Francis the Ladybug (before discovering that "she" is actually male): "Hey, cutie! Wanna pollinate with a real bug?!"
When Flik is trying to distract Atta from his meeting with the other bugs, he uses various acronyms, like "FYI" and "BYOB". "BYOB" is a message generally given with party invitations, and it means "Bring Your Own Beer".
- not always. Sometimes it's used for "Bring Your Own Barbeque".
"Work that ab, baby!"* The abdomen is an insect's hindquarters.
Hopper kills three of his own henchmen during the bar scene. Graphically. Entirely onscreen.
The poster featuring Hopper had the tagline "bugs kick grass."
Grievous Harm with a Body: Slim, being a stick insect, is often used as a prop/weapon by the other circus bugs - both in and out of the circus. He's very unhappy about it.
Grimmification: Of "The Ant and the Grasshopper". What if the ant didn't want to give up his food, but the grasshopper was big enough to just take it anyway?
Grotesque Cute: The cute widdle fuzzy goldfinch chickies that eat Hopper alive at the end.
Heel Face Turn: Molt. At first it seems as though he's fleeing Ant Island with the other grasshoppers, but in the last scene he's shown to have become a part of P.T. Flea's circus as their strongman (it's been his dream ever since he first saw it perform during Hopper's failed attempt to oppress the ants).
Large Ham: Manny "Oh the pain!". Helps his actor got famous playing one of the most famous hams in television, Dr. Smith. Heimlich is quite hammy too.
Liar Revealed: This moment happens to Flick once the colony discovers the truth about the "warrior bugs".
Love Epiphany: It's implied that Flik has had a crush on Atta for a long time, but soon as the Circus Bugs save Dot from the bird, Atta begins treating Flik much more respectfully, talking with him about her own personal issues, realizing that perhaps they are Not So Different, and apologizing for how she'd treated him in the past. Then she gives him his Eureka Moment, and he kisses her on the cheek before running off, leaving Atta wide-eyed and caressing the spot where he kissed her.
Magnificent Seven: Spoofed and subverted - the seven "heroes" are circus performers who think the ant hill wants to entertain their grasshopper guests. Also, there's nine of them (Rosie, Heimlich, Gypsy, Manny, Tuck and Roll the pillbugs, Dim, Francis, and Slim).
Never Say "Die": It is never used when the good guys are referred to (Flik asked Dim to "squish" him after he found out about the truth of the circus bugs and the grasshoppers deciding to "squish" the Queen), but the words "kill" and "die" are used in humorous contexts.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Near the climax, when Hopper lets Thumper loose on Flik, then finishes the job. It's so nasty we even see his brother Molt flinching.
Non-Action Guy: All the circus bugs put themselves to good use during the fight with the goldfinch...except Manny, who just sits on Dim's back and then takes some of the credit for fighting the bird. He is also the only circus bug who has wings he can use and doesn't actually use them. However, he is one of the first circus bugs to pretend to be dying during the attack, and he did prove himself useful earlier with the Disappearing Box trick.
First Fly:(to Francis) Hey cutie! Wanna pollinate with a real bug?! (Flies laugh. Francis flies up to them, eyelids batting, then...) Francis: SO! Being a Ladybug automatically makes me a GIRL! Is that it, fly-boy? HUH?! Second Fly: YIKES!! First Fly: She's a guy!
Pan and Scan: Inverted with the fullscreen version of the film. The most noticeable example is the scene where they show two young ants climbing up a leaf; in the original widescreen version you couldn't see the second ant at all, but in the fullscreen version you actually do.
Francis: When your grasshopper friends get here, we are gonna KNOCK! THEM! DEAD!!!
Read 'Em and Weep: Dot says this to Francis while playing a game with him while he was getting better from an injury.
Refuge in Audacity: As Hopper points out to his gang, they actually stand no chance against the ants in a fight due to sheer numbers. The entire plot revolves around them keeping the ants on their back foot so they never realize this and the grasshoppers can continue extorting them.
Scavenged Punk: It drifts into this trope during the city sequence. The city is built entirely out of discarded boxes and trash with a tipped over soup can doubling as a dive bar (the countertop inside the bar is a swiss army knife). The background of the entire sequence is scattered with numerous details like this.
Science Marches On: Dim was supposed to be a fictional variety of generic rhinoceros beetle. Then a couple years ago they found a rhino beetle that sort of looks like him.
The (failed) attempt at intimidating the flies that attempted to harass Francis, which was the reason why Flik even mistakenly believed they were warrior bugs in the first place, was a spoof on Robin Hood. Also, after they demolished the bar in their attempt to flee, Francis pulls Slim out in a parody of King Arthur pulling out Excalibur.
This quote from Hopper.
Hopper: (to Atta) It's a bug-eat-bug world out there, Princess, one of those 'circle of life' kind of things.
Sidetracked by the Analogy: In the beginning, Dot really cannot wrap her head around the fact that Flik is pretending that the rock is a seed.
Insects have six legs. The ants have four limbs. The grasshoppers have six limbs, apparently to make them more alien and less sympathetic to human audiences.
The ants cowered in fear of the grasshoppers instead of dismembering them and eating them. This would make for a family-unfriendly film, but the amount of spinelessness exhibited by the ants is ludicrous.
The existence of male workers.
The queen ant doesn't look anything like a real queen ant. (Antz got this one right.)
Somewhere an Ornithologist Is Crying: a small detail. The bird seems to be some type of finch; passerine birds (such as finches) are born mostly featherless. The chicks here more resemble chickens.
Unwitting Instigator of Doom: P.T. Flea does this twice: not only does he accidentally reveal the identity of the warriors, which gets them and Flik ostracized by the colony, but later he incinerates the bird, thinking it was the real deal — however, that latter moment is subverted in that the beating Hopper dishes out on Flik in response, resulting in his Rousing Speech, actually rallies the ants into sending the grasshoppers packing for good.
Welcome to the Big City: Flik doesn't get mugged or attacked (it's hardly as if he had anything on him), but he does get mocked by a couple of street performers and runs into a cricket who's lost his wings; he also gets towered over by a daddy-long-legs.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Played straight with most of Hopper's minions, as nobody knows where they went into hiding; averted with Molt, who joins P.T. Flea's circus as its new strongman, Tiny.