While I’m sure you don’t appreciate insects in your home, Floridians can still enjoy bugs on the big screen. Bugs have been the stars of the show in some popular movies you’re sure to remember, and some even have educational components to help you understand these creatures a bit more.
Whether you’re a fan of horror, comedy, or animated movies, there’s a bug film out there for everyone to enjoy. Here’s a list of the top 10 best bug movies you should watch this long weekend (especially if driven indoors due to rain — hello, Florida summer!).
This film is based on a popular Roald Dahl book and features a combination of live-action and stop motion animation. If you like Tim Burton’s other work, you’ll love this!
The story is about a boy named James who obtains magical “crocodile tongues” from a mysterious stranger. Those tongues eventually grow into a massive (magical) peach on his neighbor’s tree.
Inside the peach live giant anthropomorphic bugs: a spider, ladybug, glowworm, centipede, grasshopper, and an earthworm. James befriends the insects, and adventures ensure (yes, the peach can travel). If you’re up for a friendly, fantastical adventure this weekend, this is a great choice.
A Bug’s Life is a classic 90s animated film about an ant named Flik, who fancies himself an inventor. In this film, grasshoppers are the story’s antagonists and bully the ants into collecting food for them. Later in the film, Flik uses his inventions to lead his army of ants against the grasshoppers.
Wildly popular, the film’s messaging centers around the importance of bravery, self-confidence, and working together as a team. Other bugs you can spot in this movie include mosquitos, a caterpillar, a stick insect, a rhino beetle, and even a couple of fleas and flies.
In this 1940 Disney adventure, a wooden puppet named Pinocchio must earn the right to become a real boy by being truthful, selfless, and brave. While perhaps a less obvious choice than our first two suggestions, this film features arguably the world’s most famous cricket: Jiminy Cricket, to be exact. This tiny cricket is appointed to look after Pinocchio and act as his conscience — and while he does his best, Pinocchio manages to get up to plenty of mischief.
Long hailed as a Disney classic and one of the best animated movies of all time, Pinocchio holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and features characters that have become part of American lexicon and culture. It’s worth the watch (or nostalgic re-watch, if it’s been a while).
Craving something a bit more…well, modern? Ant-Man is the 2015 superhero film that fits the bill. Cat burglar Scott Lang comes into possession of a highly advanced suit that can shrink him down to the size of an ant. We won’t spoil it too much, but you can count on action, heists, stealth, and drama in this flick. (As with most movies in the Avengers series, the plot stands alone but subtly ties into many of the others.)
A “bug movie” by possibly the loosest definition, in the original comic book on which it’s based, Lang armed himself with a helmet that could control ants. The sequel Ant Man and the Wasp also brings a female lead into the fold as — yep — a wasp.
Here’s a film for the horror/comedy movie fanatics. This 2002 creature feature resembles classic 50s horror films with plenty of camp to go around. The (somewhat loose) plot centers around a small town forced to battle giant spiders created by accidental toxic waste spillage. For those who like spiders, the movie (to its credit) features several different species, including orb weavers, tarantulas, black widows, and more.
If you’re looking for a so-bad-it’s-good feature (and aren’t afraid of spiders), this might be worth checking out.
Now here’s a weird one that might make you wonder who was in charge of movie financing in the 90s! In this adult musical comedy, main character Joe graduates from college and moves into a dingy New York apartment. Predictably, Joe quickly realizes that he’ll have to share his dirty apartment with thousands of cockroaches — but in this case, they’re talking, singing, dancing cockroaches.
This movie was a box-office bomb when released but then again, so were some other cult favorites (Rocky Horror Picture Show comes to mind) — so maybe the cockroaches of Joe’s Apartment are just waiting for their big break.
After being bullied by a big kid, a boy named Lucas decides to destroy a colony of ants with his water gun in frustration. For his misbehavior, the ants curse Lucas with a secret potion that shrinks him down to the size of – you guessed it – an ant!
The boy is sentenced to hard labor in the colony he tried to kill, but complex personal relationships quickly develop and Lucas finds himself learning to understand other creatures — as do the ants. While not a huge box-office success, the film touches on themes like compassion, friendship, understanding, and kindness.
(Bit of a bummer that the villain is a pest control professional, but by the looks of it, he’s one of those poison-happy ones ready to kill anything and everything in sight. Our motto remains “destroying pests, not the planet” and we strive to protect helpful insect life wherever and wherever possible!)
With this one, you have the option of going old school (the original 1973 animated version) or modern (with the 2006 live-action adaptation). Based on the childhood classic by the same name, it follows the story of a small talking pig named Wilbur who lives on a farm.
Wilbur strikes up a friendship with the other residents in the barn (voiced by all-stars like Julia Roberts, John Cleese, Oprah Winfrey, Kathy Bates, and Sam Shepard) but especially with Charlotte, the barn spider. She endeavors to help save his life when Wilbur becomes scared that he will end up on the farmer’s dinner table at the end of the season.
Focusing on ideas like friendship, loyalty, and kindness, this one’s an easy “yes” — yes, even for those afraid of spiders!
Released virtually in tandem with the more popular A Bug’s Life (by competing studios), Antz may never have gotten its due, but it remains, oddly, a divisive film. One might not guess that a movie featuring talking animated bugs could be divisive, of all things, but the political undertones are strong and similar to themes found in Ayn Rand’s work.
Z is a worker ant who begins to wonder if there’s more to life than working tirelessly inside his colony. While he tries to break free from the totalitarian society, he falls for the princess, who also feels trapped by her duties. After a daring escape, the two ants experience excitement and danger to find Z’s “utopia.”
We would hardly be doing our duty as stewards of the environment if we failed to suggest a few more educational features. If documentaries are your thing, here are two of the most highly rated documentaries touching on insects and their lives:
- DisneyNature: Wings of Life, narrated by Meryl Streep and focusing on butterflies, bees, bats, and hummingbirds
- Microcosmos, filmed with microscopic cameras that give insight into the daily lives of insects
Do you have a favorite bug movie we missed? Let us know — there are plenty more rainy Florida days to come!
Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.
Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control