Australian Council on Children and the Media

Ant Bully, The

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Not recommended under 5, PG to 8 (Viol. Scary scenes. Theme)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ant Bully, The
  • a review of Ant Bully, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 September 2006.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and scary visual images.
Children aged 5-8 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and theme.
Children over the age of 8 Should be ok to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Ant Bully, The
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 89 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Lonely Lucas Nickle (voiced by Zach Tyler) would like nothing better than to play with the neighbourhood kids but every time he sets foot outside his home he becomes the target of the neighbourhood bully, who believes that his size gives him the right to pick on those who are smaller than he is. Consequently Lucas unleashes his pain and anger on the ant colony in his front garden thereby earning the name The Destroyer.

Determined to save the colony from future attack and total annihilation the ant wizard Zoc (Nicholas Cage) devises a plan that involves shrinking Lucas to the size of an ant and bringing him to justice at the colony’s tribunal. The Queen (Meryl Streep) has a slightly different plan and decrees that Lucas be sentenced to a life of hard labour where he must learn to become an ant before he has any hope of returning home.

Hova, (Julia Roberts) the only ant in the colony that believes there is some good in Lucas, volunteers to help him. At first Lucas is more concerned with helping himself than with learning the ways of the ant, but when their colony and lives are threatened, Lucas begins to see the importance of working together for the common good.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Bullying

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Lucas gets an ‘atomic wedgie’ from the neighbourhood bully and crashes to the ground when his underwear rips
  • In anger and frustration, Lucas terrorizes the ant colony by squirting a water gun at the mound, (which causes raging rivers to flood the colony). He then kicks at the mound and tries to crush ants, including Hova, with his feet. He later floods the colony with a garden hose, which causes widespread destruction and carries away numerous terrified ants to fates unknown.
  • One ant kicks another one to wake him up
  • The ants forcibly kidnap Lucas and carry him away screaming. They throw him down the ant hole where he bangs off of a number of surfaces, swings from place to place and eventually crashes to the ground.
  • At the ant tribunal many ants call for the death of Lucas. Most agree that he should be eaten.
  • An ant accidentally walks into a beam of sunlight and bursts into flame.
  • Menacing wasps attack the colony trying to carry off some domesticated caterpillars. A battle ensues. Ants fire rocks at the wasps, some of whom are hit. A wasp grabs Hova and lifts off with her, but later drops her and she tries to fight him off and protect Lucas.
  • The wasps are jabbing at ants and at Lucas with their stingers. One wasp gets trapped by his stinger in a firecracker and Lucas lights it, thereby exploding the wasp. Zoc says that he was nearly killed in the explosion and he looks badly singed.
  • Lucas’ sister repeatedly tries to squash an ant with her phone. We later see that his leg was broken in the attack.
  • A friend of Lucas disappears in mid-sentence as they are talking by a pond. It turns out he was eaten by a giant frog.
  • Lucas flees the frog in terror trying to avoid being captured by its sticky tongue. Other ants also flee. But Lucas is captured and eaten.
  • In the frog’s stomach Lucas is surrounded by other bugs that have also been eaten. As they are sitting in the sticky goo one of the bugs lifts up a friend, saying how quiet he has become. It is at that moment that everyone realizes that it is the severed head of his friend. The head is then thrown back into the goo.
  • When Lucas lands on the exterminator’s head he finds a colony of disgusting lice type bugs, eating bits of his scaly scalp. Lucas and the bugs are chased past hair follicles as the exterminator’s fingers scavenge the scalp.
  • Menacing wasps threaten Zoc and Lucas when they go to ask for help.
  • A wasp nest is destroyed by the exterminator. One wasp makes it back to tell the others what had happened before he too collapses and dies.
  • Black clouds of deadly smoke creep over the backyard killing ants and insects alike.
  • Many wasps fall dead to the ground after trying to attack the exterminator.
  • The exterminator flicks bugs off of him sending them crashing into various objects. He shows obvious delight in attacking and killing the insects.
  • Two bugs fly up the pant leg of the exterminator looking for a place to attack and when they spot his genitals one says to another: “That looks vulnerable.” The other then opens his jaws to bite and we see the exterminator doubling over in pain.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The ant queen looks and acts fairly creepy. Some of the other ants in the colony also are quite unnerving in their appearance.
  • The wasps are much bigger than the ants and act quite threateningly. They have enormous front pincers behind which are menacing mouths with razor sharp teeth. We get a number of close up shots and there is often suspenseful music. Many young children could be frightened by their larger-than –life appearances.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • When Lucas is first kidnapped and held captive by the ants, all he wants to do is get home and tell his mother good-bye. He is clearly very anxious about the situation.
  • When Lucas tries to destroy the ant colony by shooting it with a water gun or flooding it from a water hose, we see the results from the ants’ perspective. There is loud suspenseful music, screams of terror as ants try to flee or save themselves. A mother ant and her baby are washed away by the raging flood. Walls and tunnels collapse, Hova and Zoc are caught up in the raging waters, the incubation area is destroyed and only devastation remains.
  • When the wasps attack the colony, Lucas flees into the grass to save himself, but some of the wasps come after him trying to hunt him down. It is very suspenseful and Lucas is petrified as he tries to hide from the wasps and escape being incinerated by sporadic blasts of sunlight. Eventually one wasp corners him and Lucas must destroy him in order to survive.
  • There are a lot of insect casualties during the fight to stop the exterminator and at one stage it looks as though neither Hova or Lucas will survive. Combined with the suspenseful music and the glee of the exterminator as he continues to kill, these scenes may be upsetting to some children.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Some children at the younger end of this age group, or those who have been subject to bullying, may be disturbed by the scenes described above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

It is unlikely that this film would scare or disturb children over the age of thirteen.

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Lucas’ father playfully says “I need some alone time with my mamacita…”
  • Hova asks Lucas if he is male or female and when she gets a look at his genitals (which we don’t see) she asks: “Is that how you tell?”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • When Lucas gets shrunk down to ant size we see that he is naked, although we do not see details. Later when he is un-shrunk we see his bare behind.
  • The backside of the exterminator is visible when he bends over and his pants slide down

Use of substances

The exterminator smokes a cigar.

Coarse language

The word ‘crap is used a number of times.
There is also a fair bit of name-calling, including the use of Pukis, Loser, and Stupid on a number of occasions.

In a nutshell

The Ant Bully is a computer-animated cartoon with excellent graphics and action scenes. It has a very predictable plot but is well cast, and older children will probably enjoy it. The main messages are that even those who appear to have nothing in common can turn out to be very much alike and that the impossible can be accomplished if all work together toward a common goal.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • cooperation
  • tolerance
  • persistence
  • creativity

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss the issue of  bullying and of the having an attitude of ‘every man for himself’.

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