Such a fitting role for such a royal woman - in 2006's (wow, she had a busy year!) The Ant Bully, Streep plays, of course, the Ant Queen. And she is literally larger than life - well at least larger than her entire colony combined, basically. Now it's tough to take much into account with this performance. Not only was Streep not on screen for the duration, but she also has but two mini-scenes in which the Queen addresses the masses. Honestly, she's a great choice for voice work. Though I get discouraged by the incessant "all-star voice cast" tendencies that run rampant in the last decade of animated films (what ever happened to the early-1990s Disney movies where they just chose actors who did great voice work, rather than the big names?), I must say that Streep's voice is one worthy of drawn characters. From her vocal idiosyncrasies (ever notice she has a distinct way of saying the "ch" sound?) to her dignified aural presence (think the towering personas from Devil Wears Prada and Doubt), she's an ideal candidate for the role of a graceful and dominant insect. And I mean that in the most flattering of ways.
So on to the critique, though we have little material to work with (just wait until the write-up of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence!). Meryl's first scene is as the ant bully himself, the geeky Lucas, is presented to the colony council for crimes against nature. Of course Streep's wise queen is all moral and good, and she suggests his punishment should be to live the life of an ant (one of those walk two moons in my moccasins situations). As far as the voice work in this film goes, Streep's is top-notch. Julia Roberts also has a rather good voice for animated movies - it has a great cadence and not too much recognizability to be distracting.
As far as the movie itself goes, it's no Pixar effort, but it's certainly not as pop-culture-pandering as many DreamWorks Animation efforts. It's not barrels of laughs either, but it's fun and adorable enough to pass as a watchable flick. The premise may seem a bit tired, but the animation is stimulating and good-looking enough to maintain audience attention and awe. Some of the characters (including our "hero" Lucas and some of the supporting ants) are slightly underdeveloped, but Regina King and Bruce Campbell have terrific voices for this type of movie, so it sort of makes up for it. Plus, bonus points for using Animaniacs alum Rob Paulsen in a bit part as a goofy beetle.
Meryl's Performance: B
The Film: B
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