The Ant Bully

Opens at Metro and others, Fri., July 28. Rated PG. 89 minutes.

This computer-animated film is based on a very short children's book by John Nickle, a beautifully drawn if crudely told tale of a boy named Lucas, who sports Coke-bottle glasses and a propeller skull cap and is picked on by a buzz-cut bully named Sid. Lucas, prone to tantrums and crying jags, decides he, too, will become a tormentor of those smaller than he—in this case, the ants living in the pile in his front yard. Director John Davis (Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius) has made small alterations to Nickle's 1999 story in order to render it a feature; he's also cast the voice talent with the requisite big names, among them Nicolas Cage, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, and Paul Giamatti. And though it lacks the Pixar razzle-dazzle of A Bug's Life or the neurotic charm of Antz, Bully isn't meant to play grown-up; it's a kids' movie for kids. Davis approaches it as though he and his performers are merely storytellers trying to reach kids—rather than show-offs trying to impress their parents. Bully's just a little movie about a little guy who turns into a little bug for a while, and learns some big things along the way. And a little can, sometimes, go a very long way.

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