Ants are collectivist by nature. Throughout their lives, they work and die for the colony, mindlessly sacrificing themselves for the greater good. However, the protagonist ant at the center of the animated tale, Named Z, doesn’t want to subordinate himself to the greater good. And that twist forms the basis of the story. Z’s adventure begins were he, a worker ant, switches places with an army ant to see what army life is like. As it happens, the evil general of the army ants is secretly planning a coup to be followed by genocide for the “inferior” worker ants. Happily, Z discovers the plan, thwarts the general, and saves the day. These events are pervaded with a self-consciously individualist tone. The word “individualism” even comes up a time or two, and collectivism is deliberately mocked. For instance, at the climactic battle: “A soldier knows that the life of an individual ant doesn’t matter. What matters is the colony.” Out in the crowd, Z is making quips critical of such sentiments to his fellow soldiers. And a few scenes later, a dying soldier says to Z: “Don’t make my mistake, kid. Don’t follow orders your whole life. Think for yourself.” So far, so good. However, when other ants begin to emulate Z in making their own choices, they decide to go on strike and someone exclaims that the “workers control the means of production.” It’s a relatively minor point, but it’s one to which libertarians will be sensitive. Let’s just say the film has a pro-individualist bent, but it’s not entirely consistent. As entertainment, it’s a fair watch. Like the earlier Toy Story, it’s a computer –animated film and some of these animated effects are impressive. It also has some cute bug characters. However, this film is fairly predictable and I found Z’s Woody-Allen-type neurotic personality (vocally portrayed by Allen himself) a little tired. Nonetheless, it has some libertarian content and those more forgiving of the flaws mentioned may like it even better.
This Antz movie review article was reprinted from Jon Osborne's Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video: Movies for the Libertarian Millenium, available in the Advocates Liberty Store.