The Ant Bully: Rise of the Prolitari-Ant. Easily one of the most bizarre kids films I’ve seen in a long time, The Ant Bully is your typical, by the numbers CG kids film thinly disguising a delightful work of subversive fiction. It’s one of those films, that as it unfolds, causes you to look around the theatre at the other adults and ask: I’m not the only one seeing what I’m seeing am I?
You know those Bibles they make for kids? The ones with the simple stories and colorful artwork that leaves out all of the complex and adult themes that you’d have to commit hours of time to explaining away? Well, if someone sat down to make a similar version of the Communist Manifesto, it would look a hell of a lot like The Ant Bully. It’s a warm ultra-liberal hug of a kids film, preaching the joys of socialism and hard work, all the while telling a story of what the world might be like in a liberal post-9/11 world. . . .
After a devastating attack by “The Destroyer” (a little boy named Lucas) that floods and collapses their mound, destroys their egg chamber and kills untold scores of ants (they brush over this aspect very quickly), the film’s religious figure (a wizard as to avoid any direct correlation) Zoc (Nicholas Cage) concocts a plan to sneak into enemy territory, shrink “The Destroyer” and bring him back for trial. When he does, the ant masses are howling for blood. They want to tear the Destroyer apart. They cry out to eat him alive. But the wise and benevolent Queen Ant has different ideas. You see, The Destroyer is at war with the ants simply because he does not understand them.
Her idea? Sentence l’il Osama to live and work with the ants so he can. Because once they understand one another, there will be no reason to fight. While there, Lucas learns the value of hard work for the mound and how every Ant has his or her place in society. They each have their own specific jobs that they’re born into to do, and it’s important that each ant does its part so they can all enjoy the fruits of the harvest.
Yes, yes. I know. Ants are natures Communists. And I can imagine that it might be hard to tell a story about them without such an overt theme. Except that, well, they did it in ‘Ants’. But this isn’t just an “our culture, their culture” thing. Because as overt as it appears earlier in the film, the point gets hammered home towards the end. As Lucas and Zoc sit atop a rock and stare at the human city, Zoc asks ‘Is that your hive?’ ‘Yeah, I guess it’s like a hive.’ When Zoc asks about how it works, Lucas replies ‘I guess it’s every man for himself.’ This leads to a Zoc monologue about how that just doesn’t make any sense. Everyone has their place and don’t the humans realize that if they all work together and share in the fruits of their labor that they all can benefit?
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