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‘Ant Bully’ is a picnic of sweet surprise

In this edition of the “Critic's Corner,” “Today” movie critic Gene Shalit reviews “The Ant Bully,” starring Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, Ricardo Montalban and Meryl Streep.
/ Source: TODAY

An all-star voice cast works hard in the ant-imated movie “The Ant Bully,” opening in theaters July 28. “Today” movie critic Gene Shalit predicts an army of ticket buyers at this picnic.

What do these have in common? Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, Ricardo Montalban and Meryl Streep? They’re all ants living under Lucas Nickle’s yard, and they’re about to teach the boy a life lesson. He’s always being picked on, and whenever Steve the Bully appears, Nickle’s chances aren’t worth five cents. In his frustration, Lucas kicks and destroys anthills, causing panic and misery below. The fed-up ants appeal to their wizard (Nicolas Cage). He puts his six legs together and presto, Lucas is miniaturized and drawn into their underlawn world. Rather than punish him, Good Queen Meryl Streep wants to change his nature, and appoints Julia Roberts to find an antidote to human malevolence. Roberts’ rules of order work wonders, and she changes the boy’s nature from aggressive to respectful. With tip-top voices, mirthful animation, a wise message, and a script filled with fun, written by director John A. (for Ant?) Davis, “The Ant Bully” ups the ante in movie treats for kids — also Mom, Pop, brothers, sisters, uncles, and of course, aunts.