As animations go, this one might not be as flashy as some other recent releases but 'The Ant Bully' has a lot going for it, not least its all-star line-up and the simplicity of its storylines, that never lead you into a labyrinth.
Lucas Nickle (Tyler) is your typical 10-year-old (but for the fact that he looks about seven-years-old!). He just wants to fit in with his peers and, as the petit one of the neighbourhood, really struggles with this. When he comes under fire from the street bully Steve (Jeffrey), Lucas decides to hit back. But not at the bully - nobody likes fighting a losing battle - no, instead he takes out his frustrations on an ant colony in his front garden... with a water gun.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch - I mean colony - the ants are planning to strike back against 'The Destroyer', optimistic bunch that they are. Zoc (Cage), the inventor of the group, is busy rubbing rocks together and chanting spells to make a groundbreaking new formula, while his other half Hova (Roberts) hums the 'look on the bright side' mantra incessantly.
When the potion finally comes together the ants creep into Lucas' room in the dead of night and shrink him down to their size (quite literally) so that they can attempt to educate him on their ways and help bring about change in the wider human world. (Ah, if only everything in life was that simple.)
As a 'human ant' Lucas (or "Peanut" as his mother likes to call him) meets much resistance in the colony but when the Ant Queen (Streep) orders that he is not to be harmed he is given a chance to prove himself – learning how to forage and climb like a real ant, with chuckle-worthy tuition from forager Kreela (King) and scout ant Fugax (Campbell).
But, just as life becomes dandy for Lucas and this new ant friends, trouble is never far away. And when exterminator Stan Beals (Giamatti) - hired by the old, uneducated, ant-killer Lucas that we met at the start of the film - arrives in the Nickles' garden intent on wiping out the population of the colony, heroic action is called for.
Sure, its message is blatant to an adult audience but kids will lap up the good versus evil antics and probably find this a thrilling encounter of boy-meets-nature. Some of the action sequences in the colony are great and the sparse humour is enough to keep you relatively amused. The voices provided by the all-star cast are not found wanting either, with Regina King particularly impressive in her minor role as tutor to the baby ants.
'The Ant Bully' doesn't outstay its welcome, never verves off track with its pleasantly-presented moral message and is very easy viewing. Time well spent? Certainly not time wasted.