This week, we watched the 1997 short Geri’s Game as well as Pixar’s second feature film A Bug’s Life.
Geri’s Game is a charming story about an old man and his chess game at the park. However, his game is different than most because he is playing against his worst enemy: himself. This clever little short was paired alongside A Bug’s Life upon its release and is a delight to watch. Fans of Toy Story 2 will recognize the old man design in Geri’s Game as almost identical to the man who cleans Woody in that film.
After the release of Toy Story in 1995, Pixar was feeling the pressure of making a worthy follow up. Not only did they have to prove that Toy Story was not just a fluke or a “one hit wonder”, but they strived to do something different and original. What came from this was A Bug’s Life, Pixar’s second feature released in 1998.
A Bug’s Life follows the story of a creative ant named Flik and the disruption he causes in his ant colony with his inventions and wild ideas. After leaving the colony to find help, he meets an array of crazy characters that swear to help him during his time of need. Of course, hilarity and chaos ensue. After revisiting A Bug’s Life after not seeing it since I was a kid, I think it is an excellent film. It has everything that made Toy Story work: interesting plot, engaging characters, and a great sense of humor. However, it is unique in the Pixar canon, particularly among their early films because, though it was a critical and financial success, it is the only movie prior to 2007 that has not sparked a prequel or sequel. Because of this, it is also one of the only of Pixar’s early films that, I think, it often underrated and overlooked. This is a shame and I am hopeful that this film will not be forgotten among Pixar’s other movies because it is more than a worthy entry among their films.
Upon its release, there was controversy because of its similarities to another animated film called Antz, produced by DreamWorks Animation. Not only are they similar in premise, but Antz was helmed by recent Disney employee Jeffrey Katzenberg. This led to a public feud between the two studios and talk about whether or not Katzenberg had stolen the idea for the film from Pixar during his time at Disney. This obviously created some interesting publicity for both films.
For those of you who haven’t seen A Bug’s Life in years or perhaps ever, I highly suggest a watch. It is both original and entertaining and always fun to see Pixar in their early years in a non-Toy Story film.
Next week, we will be watching Toy Story 2 as well as Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins, which was a direct-to-video film that is a pilot to the animated series of the same name that aired in 2000.