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A Bug's Life (1998)

A Bug's Life is a 1998 American computer-animated comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. It was the second film produced by Pixar. Directed by John Lasseter and co-directed by Andrew Stanton, the film involves a misfit ant, Flik, who is looking for "tough warriors" to save his colony from a protection racket run by Hopper's gang of grasshoppers. Unfortunately, the "warriors" he brings back turn out to be an inept troupe of Circus Bugs.

The film was initially inspired by Aesop's fable The Ant and the Grasshopper. Production began shortly after the release of Toy Story in 1995. The screenplay was penned by Stanton and comedy writers Donald McEnery and Bob Shaw from a story by Lasseter, Stanton, and Joe Ranft. The ants in the film were redesigned to be more appealing, and Pixar's animation unit employed technical innovations in computer animation. Randy Newman composed the music for the film. During production, a controversial public feud erupted between Steve Jobs and Lasseter of Pixar and DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg due to the parallel production of his similar film Antz, which was released the same year.


A colony of ants, led by the elderly Queen and her daughter Princess Atta, lives in the middle of a seasonally dry creekbed on a small hill known as "Ant Island". Every summer, they are forced to give food to a gang of domineering grasshoppers, led by Hopper. One day, individualist and inventor Flik accidentally knocks the offering into the water with his latest invention, a grain harvester. Hopper demands twice as much food as compensation. When Flik earnestly suggests the ants enlist the help of bigger bugs to fight the grasshoppers, Atta sees it as a way to get rid of Flik and sends him off.

At the "bug city" (a heap of trash under a trailer), Flik happens upon the aftermath of a chaotic bar fight and mistakes a troupe of Circus Bugs – who were recently dismissed by their greedy ringmaster, P.T. Flea – for the warrior bugs he seeks. The bugs, in turn, mistake Flik for a talent agent, and accept his offer to travel with him back to Ant Island. During a welcome ceremony upon their arrival, the Circus Bugs and Flik both discover their mutual misunderstandings. The Circus Bugs attempt to leave, but are pursued by a nearby bird; while fleeing, they rescue Dot, Atta's younger sister, from the bird, gaining the ants' respect. At Flik's request, they continue the ruse of being "warriors" so that the troupe may continue enjoying the ants' hospitality. Learning that Hopper fears birds inspires Flik to create a false bird to scare away the grasshoppers. Meanwhile, Hopper reminds his gang of the ants' superior numbers, and suspects that the ants would eventually rebel if not kept in line.

The ants finish constructing the fake bird. During the subsequent celebration, P.T. Flea arrives searching for his troupe to rehire them, revealing their secret. Outraged by Flik's deception, the ants exile him, and desperately attempt to gather food for a new offering to the grasshoppers. However, when Hopper returns to discover the mediocre offering, he takes over the island, and demands the ants' winter food supply, planning to execute the Queen afterwards. Overhearing the plan, Dot persuades Flik and the Circus Bugs to return to Ant Island.

After the Circus Bugs distract the grasshoppers long enough to rescue the Queen, Flik deploys the bird. It initially fools the grasshoppers, but P.T. Flea, who also mistakes it for a real bird, burns it, exposing it as a decoy. Hopper has Flik beaten in retaliation, proclaiming that the ants are lowly life forms who live to serve the grasshoppers. Flik asserts that Hopper actually fears the colony, because he has always known what they are capable of. This inspires the ants and the Circus Bugs to fight back against the grasshoppers, driving all but Hopper away.

The ants shove Hopper into P.T. Flea's circus cannon to shoot him off of the island, but rain suddenly begins to fall. In the ensuing chaos, Hopper frees himself from the cannon and abducts Flik. The Circus Bugs and Atta pursue, with the latter catching up to Hopper and rescuing Flik. Flik lures Hopper to the nest of the bird who attacked Dot earlier; thinking the bird is another fake, Hopper taunts the real bird, until the latter grabs him and feeds him to the newborn chicks.

With the colony's enemies gone, Flik improves his inventions, along with the quality of life for Ant Island. He and Atta become a couple, and they send a few ants and Hopper's friendly brother Molt to help P.T. and the Circus Bugs on their new tour. Atta and Dot become the new Queen and Princess, respectively. The ants congratulate Flik as a hero, and bid a fond farewell to the circus troupe.




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