The Sleeper Connection

 

-Antz was an attempt to do a computer cartoon version of Sleeper, Woody’s 1973 hit about a totalitarian society in the twenty-first century. [3]

 

-In Antz, Sharon Stone is the voice of the slightly woolly-brained character once played by Diane Keaton, and Woody is Z, a nervous worker ant who has a personality disorder: he thinks too much. [3]

 

-Like Miles Monroe in Sleeper, Z resists regimentation. On the shrink’s couch, he complains of feeling insignificant, but his psychiatrist reminds him he is. [3]

-Runtime: 83 minutes

-Released on October 2, 1998

-Production Company: DreamWorks SKG, Pacific Data Images (PDI), DreamWorks Animation

-Distributor: DreamWorks Distribution

-Rated PG

-Budget: $6o million [1]

-Gross: $90.6 million [1]

-Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1

 

"Antz" Screening Companion

-Woody Allen voicing a neurotic animal in an animated kid’s movie is a good idea, although it would have made a lot more sense 25 years earlier. Back then, Allen was a genuine superstar with a broad, accessible comic style. Now he’s a grumpy, foul-mouthed senior whose last mainstream hit came out when the children who make up Antz’s ostensible target audience existed merely as glimmers. Yet, for some reason, the good people at DreamWorks Animation were willing to bet $100 million that the star of Deconstructing Harry would be able to bring people out for family movie night. [2]

 

-If [Woody] had finally discovered the secret door back into public favor, it was sad but predictable. Time and time again, for many in the netherworld of film auteurs, their declining years are spent in precisely such endeavors. For instance, Orson Welles, who was forced to scrounge for work after failing to obtain funding for his film projects, was cursed with having to narrate Bugs Bunny Superstar, and Buster Keaton in his later years made Alka-Selzer television commercials. [3]

 

-That modern audiences liked Woody Better as a bug than as a human being on the screen must have given even Woody Allen pause for reflection. [3]

Woody in Animated Form

 

-Jeff Katzenberg (one of the founders of DreamWorks and the CEO of DreamWorks Animation) personally offered the role of Z to Woody Allen. [2]

 

-Apparently Woody Allen nailed every reading he did for Z. But he also got very physical in the recordings, ruining some of the takes because the animators couldn't keep up with him. [1]

 

-Allen himself made some uncredited rewrites to the script, to make the dialogue better fit his style of comedic timing. [4]

 

-"Woody Allen would do things like changing `yes' to `absolutely' when he's asked to dance, to give it that little neurotic edge." The script was written for "a Woody Allen type," but Jeffrey Katzenberg, another of DreamWorks' founders, knew Allen and suggested it to him. Johnson came up with a trial reel in which lines from Allen's comedy "Bananas" came out of a cartoon character. "When we showed it to him, he asked, `How did you get me in there?' " said Johnson. "He was really intrigued with animation." [8]

 

-Woody Allen was offered accompaniment to sing "Almost Like Being In Love", but he refused, preferring to sing it a capella, and did so. [1]

 

-Woody Allen recorded his part as "Z" in only five days. [1]

Critical Reception

 

-The critical consensus is: Wonderful animation backed by humor and the vocal talents of its cast make for an entertaining movie. [4]

 

-This is a Woody Allen film, plain and simple. Allen has just dragged his neuroses from the concrete canyons of Manhattan to a well-drawn ant hill. -Written by Paul Clinton for CNN [6]

 

The San Fransisco Chronicle titled their review of Antz: "Clever Antz is like an animated Woody Allen movie." [7]

 

-Computer animation has advanced to the point where it can make a cute romantic couple out of Woody Allen and Sharon Stone, not to mention back-slapping buddies out of Mr. Allen and Sylvester Stallone. These and other surreal tricks are shown off in Dreamworks' funny new insect picture, the first one out of the anthill. By Janet Maslin for The New York Times [4]

 

Roger Ebert praised the film, saying that it is "sharp and funny". The variety of themes, interesting visuals, and voice acting were each aspects of the film that were praised. [4]

 

-Roger's partner, Gene Siskel, also gave the film a positive review, ranking it No. 7 on his picks of the Best Films of 1998. [4]

 

-95% Rotten Tomatoes rating

 

-Antz was the only DreamWorks animated film to receive [above] 90% until How to Train Your Dragon [in 2010]. [4]

[1] - imdb.com

[2] - www.EveryWoodyAllenMovie.com

[3] - The Unruly Life of Woody Allen by Marion Meade

[4] -http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9501EED81438F931A35753C1A96E958260&partner=Rotten%20Tomatoes

[5] - Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antz

[6] - Written by Paul Clinton for CNN - http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/Movies/9810/02/review.antz/

[7] - http://www.sfgate.com/movies/article/Fantasy-Worlds-Clever-Antz-is-like-an-2987565.php

[8] - http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19981002&slug=2775303

Trivia

 

-Antz was the first animated features from the new Studio: Dreamworks SKG, founded by Jeffery Katzenberg, David Geffen and Steven Spielberg.

 

-Z's line "I was going to include you in my erotic fantasies" was originally "I was going to include you in my most erotic sexual fantasies", but was shortened to retain a PG rating. In the German dubbed version the "sexual" is included. The line was from a spider sketch called "What Causes Homosexuality?" which was cut from Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask. Woody Allen was going to use that line as Louise Lasser was about to eat him - the sketch was never used because Allen couldn't think of a way to end the scene. Since the sketch was not used, the writers got a hold of the line and, realizing the irony (spiders, ants), had Allen's character (Z) state it. [1]

 

-Woody Allen felt uncomfortable watching Z because he was reminded so much of himself. This is why he can never watch any of the films he makes that he has a role in.  [1]

 

-Woody Allen and Sylvester Stallone appeared in a film together 27 years earlier - Bananas.  [1]

 

-The first computer-animated film to receive a PG rating. [1]

-The Office did a call-out to Antz in one episode: Michael Scott: "I am a huge Woody Allen fan – although I’ve only seen Antz, but I’ll tell you something. What I respect about that man is that when he was going through all that stuff that came out in the press – about how Antz was just a rip-off of A Bug’s Life, he stayed true to his films, or at least the film that I saw, which again was Antz."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWZWLH00dko

 

-With a gross of over $90 million, Antz made more money than Celebrity, Deconstructing Harry, Everyone Says I Love You, Mighty Aphrodite, Bullets Over Broadway, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Husbands and Wives, Shadows and Fog and Alice combined. [2]

 

-Antz was released to VHS as well as DVD on March 23, 1999, becoming the first CGI animated film to be available on the format. [4]

 

-There was a much publicized battle between Jeffery Katzenberg (who left Disney) and Pixar's John Lasseter and Steve Jobs about similarities between Antz and A Bug Life and the rush to release first. Although it doesn't feature Woody Allen in the story, it's a fascinating read. http://www.businessweek.com/1998/47/b3605013.htm