A Bug's Life (stylized as a bug's life) is a 1998 American computer-animated comedy adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and was distributed by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar's second film to be made after Toy Story. Directed by John Lasseter and co-directed by Andrew Stanton, the film involves a misfit ant, Flik, that is looking for "tough warriors" to save his colony from greedy grasshoppers, only to recruit a group of bugs that turn out to be an inept circus troupe. Randy Newman composed the music for the film, and stars the voices of Dave Foley, Kevin Spacey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Hayden Panettiere, Phyllis Diller, Richard Kind, David Hyde Pierce, Joe Ranft, Denis Leary, John Ratzenberger, Jonathan Harris, Madeline Kahn, Bonnie Hunt, Mike McShane and Brad Garrett.
The film is inspired by Aesop's fable The Ant and the Grasshopper. Production began shortly after the release of Toy Story in 1995. The screenplay was penned by Stanton and comedy writers Donald McEnery and Bob Shaw. The ants in the film were redesigned to be more appealing, and Pixar's animation unit employed new technical innovations in computer animation. During production, the filmmakers became embroiled in a public feud with DreamWorks Animation due to a similar film, Antz.
The film was released to theaters on November 25, 1998, and was a box office success, surpassing competition and grossing $363 million in receipts. It received positive reviews from film critics, who commended the storyline and animation. The film has been released multiple times on home video.
Flik, an individualist and would-be inventor, lives in a colony of ants in the middle of a dried creek. They are led by Princess Atta and her mother, the Queen. The colony is oppressed by a gang of marauding grasshoppers, led by Hopper, that arrive every season demanding food from the ants. One day, when the annual offering is accidentally knocked into a stream by Flik's latest invention, a grain-harvesting device, the grasshoppers demand twice as much food as compensation. The ants trick Flik into accepting his plan to recruit "warrior bugs" to fight off the grasshoppers. While Flik actually believes in the plan, the other ants see it as an opportunity to get rid of Flik and save themselves trouble.
Making his way to the "big city" (a heap of trash under a trailer), Flik mistakes a group of circus bugs, that have recently been dismissed by their money-hungry ringmaster, P.T. Flea, for the warrior bugs he seeks. The bugs in turn, mistake Flik for a talent agent and accept his offer to travel with him back to Ant Island. After they arrive, the circus bugs and Flik both discover their mutual misunderstandings during a welcome performance by the ants. The circus bugs then attempt to leave, but are forced back by a bird that attacks the group. They save Dot, Atta's younger sister, from the bird as they flee, gaining the ants' respect in the process. At Flik's insistence, they continue the ruse of being "warriors" so the troupe can continue to enjoy the attention and hospitality of the ants. The bird encounter inspires Flik into creating a false bird to scare away the grasshoppers. While the bird is being built, Hopper reveals to the other grasshoppers how greatly the ants outnumber them and worries that they will eventually turn on them.
The bird is constructed, but during a celebration party, the truth about the circus bugs is revealed when P.T. Flea arrives searching for them. Outraged at Flik's deception, Atta exiles him and the ants desperately gather food for a new offering to the grasshoppers. When the grasshoppers discover the mediocre offering upon their arrival, they take control of the entire colony, demanding the ants' winter store of food. After overhearing Hopper's plan to kill the Queen, Dot leaves in search of Flik and the circus bugs to convince them to return and save the colony with the bird model, even though Atta told them to never come back.
The bird nearly works, but P.T. Flea, also mistaking it for a real bird, lights it on fire, exposing it as a decoy. Hopper beats Flik in retaliation, and proclaims that the ants are lowly life forms and live to serve the grasshoppers. However, Flik retorts that the ants are actually independent, without helping the grasshoppers. This inspires the entire colony along with the circus bugs to force the grasshoppers out of Ant Island. Hopper, refusing to flee, is taken by the ants to be disposed of, but it suddenly begins to rain. In the ensuing chaos among the ants, Hopper kidnaps Flik and flies off. Atta rescues Flik after the circus bugs fail to save him. As Hopper viciously pursues them, Flik leads him to the nest of the bird he encountered earlier. Mistaking the actual bird for another fake one, Hopper taunts it, before he is picked up by the bird and fed to her chicks.
Some time later, Flik's inventions are finally perfected and appreciated by the ants, and Atta finally admits her feelings for Flik. The ants congratulate Flik as a hero and bid a fond farewell to the circus troupe, hoping that they will return for the following year. Atta is crowned the new queen and Dot is crowned the new heir to the throne.
- Dave Foley as Flik, an ant and inventor
- Kevin Spacey as Hopper, the dictator of the grasshopper gang
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Princess Atta, the soon-to-be queen of the colony
- Hayden Panettiere as Dot, Princess Atta's younger sister
- Phyllis Diller as the Queen, the leader of the ant colony
- Richard Kind as Molt, Hopper's dim-witted younger brother
- David Hyde Pierce as Slim, a walkingstick and Francis and Heimlich's friend
- Joe Ranft as Heimlich, a plump German-accented caterpillar that longs to be a butterfly
- Denis Leary as Francis, a short-tempered ladybug that is constantly mistaken for a female
- Jonathan Harris as Manny, a praying mantis and magician in P.T. Flea's circus
- Madeline Kahn as Gypsy, a gypsy moth and Manny's beautiful assistant wife.
- Bonnie Hunt as Rosie, a black widow spider and Dim's tamer
- Mike McShane as Tuck and Roll, twin pillbugs from Hungary
- John Ratzenberger as P.T. Flea, the owner of the circus
- Brad Garrett as Dim, a rhinoceros beetle that plays the "Ferocious Beast" in the circus act
- Roddy McDowall as Mr. Soil, the lead thespian. It was McDowall's final film. He died a month before the film's release.
- Edie McClurg as Dr. Flora, the doctor of the ant colony
- Alex Rocco as Thorny, Princess Atta's assistant
- David Ossman as Cornelius, an elderly ant
- David Lander as Thumper, a feral grasshopper and Hopper's "pet"
- Randy Thom as Bird, a Blanford's rosefinch which attacks the colony