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A Bug's Life

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A Bug's Life
A Bug's Life poster
Directed by John Lasseter

Andrew Stanton (Co-Director)

Produced by Darla K. Anderson

Kevin Reher

Written by John Lasseter (Story)

Joe Ranft (story)

Andrew Stanton (Story and Screenplay)

Don McEnery (Screenplay)

Bob Shaw (Screenplay)


Starring Dave Foley

Kevin Spacey

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Hayden Panettiere

Phyllis Diller

Richard Kind

David Hyde Pierce

Joe Ranft

Denis Leary

Jonathan Harris

Madeline Kahn

Bonnie Hunt

Brad Garrett

Mike McShane


Music by Randy Newman


Editors Lee Unkrich


Cinematography Sharon Calahan


Studios Walt Disney Pictures

Pixar Animation Studios


Distributors Buena Vista Pictures


Release date (s) November 25, 1998


Language English


Preceded by Toy Story (1995)


Followed by Toy Story 2 (1999)


A Bug's Life is a 1998 computer-animated Disney/Pixar movie. Inspired by the fable "The Ant and the Grasshopper" and the classic samurai film The Seven Samurai, it tells the story of an outcast inventor ant who recruits a group of circus bugs he mistakes for warriors when his colony is threatened by a group of grasshoppers. The film was directed by John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton. The movie takes place during 1995, the same year Toy Story was released.

Plot Edit

Every year, a colony of ants are expected to harvest food for a biker-gang-like bunch of grasshoppers. One ant, Flik, is an inventor whose creations usually do more harm than good. While trying out a mechanical harvester, he drops his machine and on auto-pilot, it knocks the pile of food into a stream just before the grasshoppers arrive. Their leader, Hopper, gives the ants the rest of the season to make good on what they owe, but orders a double ration of food after Flik stands up to him in defense of the Queen's youngest daughter Dot. Flik is admonished by the colony's royal council. When Flik suggests that he try to recruit some "warrior bugs" to fight the grasshoppers, Princess Atta (Dot's older sister and the eventual successor to the Queen) allows him to do so, but only to keep him out of the way.

Reaching the insect "city" (actually a pile of garbage), Flik encounters a troupe of unemployed circus bugs whose latest performance has just ended in disaster. He mistakes them for the warriors he needs. At the same time, they believe him to be a talent scout who wants to book their act. They return to the colony, much to Atta's surprise, and are immediately greeted as heroes who can end the grasshopper threat. Atta soon becomes suspicious after overhearing a conversation where both Flik and the troupe realize their mistakes. However, after they band together to save Dot from a hungry bird, she begins to think that the troupe may be able to stop the grasshoppers after all. She also starts to find herself falling in love with Flik and the feeling is mutual.

At the grasshopper gang's hideout, Hopper's brother Molt suggests they do not go back, since they have more than enough food stored and the weather will soon turn bad. Hopper reminds him and the gang that if they do not keep the ants living in fear, the ants might use their superior numbers ("a hundred to one," he estimates) to run the grasshoppers out of the colony for good. The gang sets out for the island to collect their due. When Flik discovers that Hopper is afraid of birds (due to him almost getting eaten by one years ago), he proposes that the colony build a model bird to scare him away (the plan is presented by the circus bugs, so the royal council believes the "warriors" came up with the idea). The ants put their food-gathering work on hold to carry out this project. Ater they finish and put the bird in the island's tree, circus ringmaster P. T. Flea arrives looking for his missing performers and exposes the truth. Upset at Flik's deception, Atta orders him exiled from the colony, while the other ants hide the bird and rush to collect whatever food they can for Hopper. They are unable to meet the double quota he set, and when the gang arrives, Hopper takes over the anthill and forces the ants to bring him all the food on the island.

Dot overhears the gang's plans to kill the Queen once they have all the food, and she catches up with Flik and the troupe. She persuades them to return and put the bird plan into action, with help from her and some of the other young ants. The model frightens the gang, which almost retreats, until P. T. intervenes and sets the model on fire with lighter fluid. Enraged, Hopper sends his crazed assistant Thumper to injure Flik, but Flik is still able to stand up and rally the other ants, saying that the grasshoppers depend on the extorted food for their own survival. The entire colony swarms against the gang, forcing all except Hopper to leave. However, a thunderstorm begins, causing panic among the ants. Hopper grabs Flik and flies off, intent on killing him. Atta rescues Flik, and the two lure Hopper towards the bird’s nest. Hopper corners Flik and starts strangling him, revealing his intention of returning to the colony with more grasshoppers. Flik is saved when the bird appears, picks up Hopper and feeds him to her chicks.

Later, the colony adopts Flik's harvester to speed up grain collection. Atta becomes the new queen, passes the princess crown to Dot and chooses Flik as her mate. As the troupe leaves, Slim the stick insect notices that they've forgotten Heimlich the caterpillar, who emerges from the chrysalis in which he has encased himself. He pops out with a tiny pair of butterfly wings, far too small to lift him off the ground, but he's picked up by Francis the ladybug and Manny the praying mantis, and the troupe (with Molt, acting as a road crew assistant) departs with the colony’s thanks. Dot joined by Queen Atta and Flik (who are shown holding hands) wave goodbye. The shot then pulls out to reveal that "Ant Island" is a small area in the forest surrounded by a little stream.

Cast Edit

  • Dave Foley as Flik, an ant and inventor
  • Kevin Spacey as Hopper, the dictator of the grasshopper gang
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Princess Atta, the soon-to-be queen of the colony
  • Hayden Panettiere as Dot, Princess Atta's younger sister
  • Phyllis Diller as the Queen, the leader of the ant colony
  • Richard Kind as Molt, Hopper's dim-witted younger brother
  • David Hyde Pierce as Slim, a walkingstick and Francis and Heimlich's friend
  • Denis Leary as Francis, a short-tempered ladybug that is constantly mistaken for a female
  • Joe Ranft as Heimlich, a plump German-accented caterpillar that longs to be a butterfly
  • Bonnie Hunt as Rosie, a black widow spider and Dim's tamer
  • Brad Garrett as Dim, a rhinoceros beetle that plays the "Ferocious Beast" in the circus act
  • Jonathan Harris as Manny, a praying mantis and magician in P.T. Flea's circus
  • Madeline Kahn as Gypsy, a gypsy moth and Manny's beautiful wife and assistant
  • Mike McShane as Tuck and Roll, twin pillbugs from Hungary
  • John Ratzenberger as P.T. Flea, the owner of the circus
  • Roddy McDowall as Mr. Soil, the lead thespian. It was McDowall's final film before his death in October 1998.
  • Edie McClurg as Dr. Flora, the doctor of the ant colony
  • Alex Rocco as Thorny, Princess Atta's assistant
  • David Ossman as Cornelius, an elderly ant
  • David Lander as Thumper, a feral grasshopper and Hopper's "pet"
  • Randy Thom as Bird, a Blanford's rosefinch which attacks the colony

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