A Bug’s Life

image for A Bug’s Life

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Not suitable under 4; parental guidance to 6 (animated violence, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for A Bug’s Life
  • a review of A Bug’s Life completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 April 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 4 Not suitable due to animated violence and some scenes which may scare very young children.
Children aged 4–6 Parental guidance recommended due to animated violence and scary scenes.
Children over the age of 6 Ok for this age group.

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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: A Bug’s Life
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Not Specified
Length: 98 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Flik (voice of Dave Foley) is a unique ant who sees the world for all its possibilities, who can’t seem to follow the masses and who is forever searching for more productive ways to do things. When his latest invention accidentally knocks all of the food off their offering stone Hopper (voice of Kevin Spacey), leader of an evil band of grasshoppers, insists that the ants now give them double rations to make up for it even if it means that the ants themselves will starve. Flik, feeling terrible for what he has done and hoping to win the admiration of Princess Atta (voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus), ventures off to Bug city where he is determined to find some ‘warrior’ bugs who will help rid his colony of the grasshoppers forever. Flik inadvertently comes across a rag tag crew of circus bugs who are down on their luck and eager to take a job. Due to misunderstandings, the circus crew arrive in the ant colony under the impression that they will put on a show but soon learn the ants are hoping that they will slaughter the grasshoppers instead. When the tiny Princess Dot (voice of Hayden Panetierre) is attacked by a bird, Flik and the reluctant group work together to save her, earning the adulation and applause they have all been craving. When Flik is banished and the circus crew forced to leave before the grasshoppers return, it is Dot who reminds them all of their capacity for greatness and the crew return to help Flik outsmart the tyrannical insects. Flik’s plans, once again, go awry but the ants soon learn that there is power in numbers and power in unity and that one ant, backed by thousands, can do the impossible.


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, slavery, fear of taking risks and trying something new, pretending to be something you are not.

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:

  • An angry Hopper shoves, punches and violently grabs random ants. He takes Dot away from her mother and threatens her.
  • A bug gets burned when a stunt goes wrong. He is later shown to be fine.
  • An insect gets electrocuted and dies after flying into the light.
  • Some ant children put on a play and draw a picture of a massacre showing bodies chopped in half in a depiction of what the circus bugs will do to the grasshoppers.
  • Hopper throws random mosquitos into a wall.
  • Flik is beaten, kicked, punched and nearly killed by a crazy grasshopper.

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:

  • Many of the bugs, especially the evil band of grasshoppers, look menacing and scary. There are numerous up-close shots where they terrify the ant colony and one in particular looks demented and crazy. He is kept on a chain for the most part but makes strange, threatening sounds. His eyes bulge and he looks as if he will devour anyone that gets too close to him. In a later scene he is found chasing Dot through fog. She is running for her life and he is relentlessly pursuing her. He stops only when she falls off a cliff. The scenes are intense and loud and coupled with the evil looking characters and perilous circumstances this is likely to scare or disturb many young children.
  • A bird tries to attack Dot while Flik and his motley band of misfits work together to save her. The bird is relentless as it chases them all and the sense of peril is palpable until they find themselves sheltering in a thorn bush. Some children may be upset by the notion of Dot being attacked or killed.
  • In a later scene Hopper is eaten by the baby birds. His scream-filled, last moments are shown but his actual demise is off screen.

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:

  • Some children, especially on the younger side of this age bracket, may also be upset by the above mentioned scenes.

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.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Two crass flies call a lady bug ‘cute’ and suggestively ask if she wants to, “pollinate with a real bug?”

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A Mosquito asks a bartender for a: “Bloody Mary O+” and appears to pass out after consuming a large blob of blood.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Infrequent name calling such as: “Stupid”, “Loser” and “Twit.”

In a nutshell

A Bug’s Life is an animated adventure that showcases excellent computer animated graphics and a unique view of the insect world. There are some important messages about standing up for what you believe in and the power of unity to overcome injustice. This is a family film that parents and children can enjoy together but due to some of the perilous and scary scenes it is not suitable for very young viewers.

The main messages from this movie are that everyone has a role to play and that no matter how small and insignificant you may feel, it is important to believe in yourself and to have faith in your ability to make a difference.

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

  • Cooperation
  • Resourcefulness
  • Courage
  • Determination
  • The powerful force of unity.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Bullying and the use of violence and intimidation to get what you want.
  • Injustice and the subjugation of a people or species.
  • Venturing into a dangerous situation on your own.
  • Pretending to be someone or something that you are not.
  • Imbalance of the natural world, how these imbalances occur and how they can be rectified.