There’s no telling what kids will make of hearing the voice of Woody Allen — in full stuttering, sex-obsessed, neurotic whine — emerge from Z, an animated worker ant who shares his erotic fantasies with bug babe Princess Bala (wittily voiced by Sharon Stone). My guess is they won’t get it, they won’t mind, and they won’t think the computer-generated images in Antz are as much fun as those in Toy Story, the first CGI feature (P.S. They’re not).
Still, Antz is refreshingly naughty and nice. This bug-toon (from DreamWorks) beats A Bug’s Life (from rival Disney) to the multiplex by seven weeks, and it’s worth seeing even if you’re old enough to eat solid foods. Thanks to the CGI wizards, these little brown hard bodies bitch about work, dance their legs off (all three pairs) and make love and war. A sly script adds to the lively ride, notably when the action switches from the dark ant colony to the outdoors, where Z and Bala are hurled around on the bottom of a human foot.
The vocal talent is top tier: Anne Bancroft’s queen, Jennifer Lopez’s flirt, Gene Hackman’s badass general, Christopher Walken’s aide. Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin excel as WASP snobs. And it’s a hoot to hear Sly Stallone — a soldier ant — shoot the shit with the Woodman, who frets about fears of abandonment (“I’m the middle child in a family of 5 million”) and steals the show as a redeemed loser out to undermine the social order for forbidden love. Even in animation, the heart wants what it wants.