Why’s it Forgotten? A Bug’s Life and Antz
Kevthewriter recalls the animated insects of 1998.
Back in 1998, Pixar released its 2nd feature film, A Bug’s Life. Dreamworks, on the other hand, released their 1st CG animated film… Antz. And that was no coincidence, Antz was literally created to be a competitor to A Bug’s Life, thanks to some corporate clashes between Jeffrey Katzenberg and Disney that you could read about on any article you can find with a quick Google search so I won’t get into it here.
Despite who ripped off who, both movies seem to have been overshadowed by their successors. A Bug’s Life isn’t completely forgotten. It has a presence in Disney parks and, if Disney edits trailers with different Pixar movies, clips of it might pop up but, if Pixar is mentioned in conversation, I have noticed it tends to not come up as often as the Toy Story films, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, or pretty much every other animated movie from 1995-2010 (and maybe Inside Out).
Antz, on the other hand, has been completely forgotten though there’s a good reason for that. Thing is, while Dreamworks might be the most famous of the non-Disney owned animation studios, it’s more so widely known for the Shrek series and for its spats with Disney than for its movies. Only a handful of their animated movies haven’t faded into complete obscurity and most of them that are still remembered to this day (Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon, umm, I dunno, Trolls maybe) are remembered because they spawned off huge franchises with tons of sequels, TV shows, etc. On the other hand, Dreamworks’ animated movies that only have one movie to their name (and maybe a Netflix show here or there) tend to be forgotten after a while.
I think the problem is Dreamworks’ movies have always been very hit and miss when it comes to quality while Pixar, at least from 1995-2010, were more consistent. Seeing as almost all of Pixar’s movies were beloved, it has been easier to remember their existence but, seeing as Dreamworks’ movies range from mediocre to good to sometimes great, most of their movies tend to fade away. Not helping matters is that Dreamworks usually releases 2-3 films a year while Pixar (barring 2015 and 2017) usually releases one movie per year, meaning it’s a bit easier to remember all of Pixar’s movies then it is Dreamworks’ movies, which causes the movies with franchises to stick out more. Seeing as Antz never got a sequel, it unfortunately got lost in the mix of other forgotten animated Dreamworks films, despite being their first CGI film.
But, while that might explain why Antz has been forgotten, why are both movies forgotten? I think the problem is that, seeing as they both came out when their studios were still young, they were still finding their voice. As a result, both of these movies don’t exactly have all the things the studios are known for, which probably further makes them more forgettable to most audiences. Antz, like many Dreamworks films, has some pop culture references, celebrity voices, and even a couple of toilet jokes but it’s also darker, more overt with its adult jokes, and has more mature themes than the likes of Over the Hedge or Turbo. A Bug’s Life, meanwhile, is more simplistic than your average popular Pixar film (barring Cars) and also isn’t as emotional.
In a way, these movies are to their respective studios what The Incredible Hulk is to the MCU. It’s definitely different a bit tonally from the other movies the studio made (The Incredible Hulk is a lot less jokey than most of the non-Russo Brothers MCU movies) and, possibly as a result, because it doesn’t have what’s been expected from the studio, it tends to get forgotten about despite being one of the earliest entries in the company’s history.
Therefore, Antz is forgotten because it comes from a studio whose movies are usually only remembered if they spawn franchises or, in Bee Movie‘s case, memes. But both movies are forgotten because the studios hadn’t really honed down their style yet and, as a result, the two movies don’t feel so much like a movie that came from that studio and, therefore, people don’t think about them as much as other films from the studio.
Or maybe people would just like to forget that Jeffrey Katzenberg once thought it would be a good idea to have Woody Allen star in a PG rated movie. Or they might want to forget that Kevin Spacey worked on a kids movie, one that was directed by John Lasseter of all people. That might have something to do with it too.