1998, Movie, PG, 83 mins


And you thought ants liked being bustling little collectivists! Not six-legged schlemiel Z (voiced by Woody Allen), a worker ant who dreams of bigger things, even as his shrink counsels him to revel in his natural insignificance. Z's life changes the night haughty Princess Bala (Sharon Stone) sneaks into the worker ants' bar to have some fun, and finds that nonconformist Z cuts quite a rug. In hopes of seeing her again, Z switches places with childhood pal Weaver (Sylvester Stallone), a soldier ant, thinking to catch Bala's attention as she reviews the ant troops. Imagine Z's surprise when instead he finds himself shipped off to battle against a termite colony, and his greater surprise when, after happenstance leaves him the sole survivor of the brutal rout, he's suddenly hailed as a war hero. More wacky happenstance later, Z accidentally kidnaps Bala and stumbles onto an evil plot by General Mandible (Gene Hackman) to betray the Queen (Anne Bancroft), kill the "weak" worker ants and start a new colony under his own rule. By any standard, the film is a remarkable technical achievement: The foam-rubbery-looking, computer-generated ants are kind of creepy, which should be no deterrent to kids who live for worms 'n' dirt desserts and goop, and the high-profile voice cast is clearly a sop to the adults who find themselves doing kid-flick duty: It includes Jennifer Lopez, Danny Glover, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, John Mahoney and Christopher Walken. Adults also are more likely than kids to snicker at jokes about drunken wasps, and to recognize the Objectivist screed (the will of a great man -- even such unlikely a great man as Woody Allen-the-ant -- elevates the masses) lurking beneath the friendly surface. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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