There are no surprises here! Bill Mikulak reviews this home video turned motion picture that is sure to please young Doug fans.
All "making of" books are derived from the same mold and if you've read one studio-sanctioned "making of" book, then you've read them all. Jeff Kurtti's A Bug's Life: The Art and Making of an Epic of Miniature Proportions is much like the film -- there is plenty of visual eye candy that is a joy to look at, but content-wise, it's rather slim. The book is wonderfully designed by Gregory Wakabayashi with a lot of well-chosen production art, stills, concept drawings and the like. Interestingly enough, mixed in with the pre-production artwork is conceptual design work by world-renowned children's illustrator William Joyce, who is also the creator of the CG-animated series, Rolie Polie Olie. In fact, the artwork is so nicely reproduced, many times I was tempted to tear out the beautifully printed images and paste them on my wall. On the other hand, the "making of" portion was rather mundane and shallow. Of course, there were the prerequisite quotes from the creative and technical people involved, explaining how they were striving to do something different, thereby justifying their reasons for making the film. There were many nougats of interesting information buried within the fluff, but 128 pages seems rather short especially when most of the pages are dominated by imagery. One of the many interesting facts left out of the book is how Robert De Niro and Alec Baldwin were originally offered the role of the villain Hopper before Kevin Spacey was finally selected. Another is how a boring entomologist was brought in from UC Berkeley who went on and on about how insects moved. It's these cool factoids that animation fans like to read and unfortunately, it's the exact type of thing this book leaves out. Kurtti makes it a point that this film was made by artists and not computers, but let's not forget that after all, this is a CG film. That being said, the book skips over too many technical aspects involved in the making of a computer generated film to justify itself as a true "making of" book. A Bug's Life: The Art and Making of an Epic of Miniature Proportions is a handsome entry in the already crowded marketplace of "making of" and "art of" books. Here's what it all boils down to - one's enjoyment of "making of" books is directly proportional to one's enjoyment of the particular film the book is about. Therefore, if you liked A Bug's Life, then this book will make a wonderful addition to your collection; and if not, then it might be a wise bet to keep your distance from this title. A Bug's Life: The Art and Making of an Epic of Miniature Proportions by Jeff Kurtti. New York City, New York: Hyperion, 1999. 128 pages. ISBN: 0-7868-6441-9. (U.S. $40, Canada $54 hardcover) Amid Amidi is the Associate Editor of Animation World Magazine.
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