Lucas (Tyler) is fed up with being picked on for being small. So he kills the only thing smaller than him: ants. None too pleased about this, a magically powered ant shrinks him down to their size to spend some time in their tiny shoes, teaching him to think before he stamps.
The general rule with computer animation is to show audiences something they’ve never seen before, a glorious world that new technology has only made possible within about the last eight minutes. It’s unusual, then, that someone should choose to set a film in the world of ants, who have already been done great service by Antz and A Bug’s Life.
In Bully’s defence, it does give a better visual look at this world — the textures and lighting are gorgeous and there’s a terrific Starship Troopers quality to some of the insect battles. But storywise and laughwise it suffers by comparison to its forebears, and never really manages to nail down its characters’ functions.
The role of villain shifts between bratty nerd Lucas (insufferable for the first 40 minutes), magician ant Zoc (Cage, OTT even in animated form) and Paul Giamatti’s sleazy exterminator, making it difficult to settle into the story or actually root for anyone. Even with a running time under 90 minutes, there are moments that will drag for anyone over the age of nine.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with revisiting ground covered by other films, but there needs to be something fresh, and compared to previous bug-centric ’toons, The Ant Bully is small fry.
As kiddie entertainment it works well, with simple humour and lots of action. But theres not a lot to appeal to any accompanying adults.