Before Dreamworks animation studio made it big with their CGI blockbuster Shrek. They told a tale about a colony of obidient creatures and the one who would defy that system. No I’m not looking back at The Matrix, I am going to look back at 1998’s Antz.
Cast: Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone.
Writers: Todd Alcott, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
Directors: Tim Johnson, Eric Darnell
The story centers around a worker ant named Z(Woody Allen). He is unhappy about his place in life and feels he was destined for better things then just digging. You see in this ant colony everyone is either a worker or a soldier. No one has any choice about what they do,because it’s chosen for them at birth. Z’s best friend Weaver(Sylvester Stallone) envies him because he gets to hang around all those beautiful women workers all day .
“Weaver, their career girls. Their obsessed with digging” replies Z one night while they are hanging out a bar.
While others are dancing Z meets Princess Bala(Sharon Stone) and falls in love right away. I’m pretty sure it was lust but since this is a kids movie so we’ll just say it was love. He later hears that she will be around for the royal inspection of the soldiers. This give Z the great idea to switch places with Weaver who is a soldier. The inspection turns out to be an announcement that they are going to war against the termites.
“Why don’t, why don’t, why don’t we just try to influence their political process with campaign contributions?” says Z as he is being shipped off to battle.
It turns out that the whole war against the termites was just a faux and that General Mandible(Gene Hackman) has devious plans to wipe out most of the population and rebuild the colony. His plans backfire when Z unknowingly becomes the only survivor of the massacre and is giving the royal treatment.
Antz is the closet thing we will ever get to Woody Allen directing an animated movie. From the very start it has the same rhythm and humor of classic comedies such as Banannas and Take the Money and Run. If you replaced the opening credits with Allen’s usual white text over black screen you would think that this was one of his pictures. There are a lot classic Woody one liners and even though he is not credited as being a writer. It’s obvious that he ad libbed all of his lines. I never though the Woodster was ever a good actor, but I really enjoyed watching him in this flick. He seemed to have a lot of fun playing this role and it’s one of my favorite performance of his after Deconstructing Harry.
The Suppourting cast was also really good and deserves a mention. Sharon Stone gives Bala a real fiesty additude and in some scenes she reminds me of her role from Casino. Tamed down of course because of the PG rating. It was also great seeing Sylvester Stallone in a comedic role and I though him and Allen were great together. It would have been fun if they were both cast in a action comedy back in the day. Christopher Walken did a really good job as Colonel Cutter(General Madible’s right hand man). I’m surprised that this was the only animated movie he’s ever voiced. The man does have a distingushed sound. One would think he would be used in more cartoons. Other supporting characters that were good included Dan Aykroyd, Anne Bancrofft, Jane Curtain and Danny Glover.
Dreamworks Antz was released a few months ahead of Disney/Pixar’s A Bug’s Life. Both movies are a lot of fun and in terms of the actual animation itself. Disney’s insect movie wins in leaps and bounds over Dreamwork’s. The look of Z and the others are kind of drab and the animation is not as fluid as it should be. However when it comes to which one was better written or gave me the most laughs. I will have to choose Antz as the one I was over and over again. The humor is alot of fun and I respect very highly a movie that tells kids to think for themselves. It’s not only a good message for the young but for all ages as well.