Movie Wave Home
Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer

Composed by

* * * * 1/2

Album running time

Performed by
conducted by


Engineered by
Music Editor
Produced by

Released by
Serial number

Artwork copyright (c) 1998 Walt Disney Music Company / Pixar; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall



A touch of brilliance from Newman; an epic of miniature proportions


Three years after the phenomenal worldwide success of Toy Story, Pixar followed it up with the equally-brilliant A Bug's Life, a charming but witty parody of The Magnificent Seven in which a gang of useless circus performers are hired by a colony of ants to protect themselves from the evil grasshoppers who terrorise them every year.  Amusing from start to finish, always warm and full of heart, it's another great film from the studio which can seemingly do no wrong.  The vocal cast was impressive (led by Kevin Spacey), and the large German beetle (or something) called Heimlich sounds uncannily like Hans Zimmer (really).

Back for the ride, after his double Oscar nomination for Toy Story, was composer Randy Newman, this time seeing his vocal talents restricted to one performance - but what a great song it is!  "The Time of Your Life" is one of his most memorable movie songs, a big old slice of sweet fun, enormously catchy.  That it didn't secure a nomination itself was quite a surprise, but Newman still managed to become the first person ever to be nominated in three different categories in the same year, for three different movies - A Bug's Life for Best Musical or Comedy Score, Pleasantville for Best Dramatic Score and Babe 2 for Best Song.  They should probably all have won, though predictably none of them did.

The score itself is wonderful, both in the film and on CD.  Indeed, in terms of the latter aspect, it's certainly the best of Newman's scores for Pixar, lending itself better than the others to album treatment due to its more flowing, less bitty nature.  The fact that it contains five or six memorable themes is no bad thing either!  It begins with one of the best of them, "The Flik Machine", a great piece of swing music that's impossible to resist - you'll quite possibly be humming it for hours.  Or at least you would be, if you didn't listen to the constant stream of great music which follows it.  Newman takes his incredibly intricate style from Toy Story but takes advantage of the longer, more developed scenes this time to keep ideas going for that little while longer, making this that much more satisfying.  Several of the themes sound like they could come from a western, appropriate given the movie's plot.

Perhaps the very best track (though each has plenty of redeeming features) is "Dot's Rescue", a four minute piece of orchestral mayhem which must have been an absolute pig to both write and perform, it's a classic piece of kids' action music.  Newman keeps things going with such pace, encompassing such a variety of emotions without ever making it sound bitty, it really is a little gem.  Other highlights include "Circus Bugs", complete with its circus-like music, "Robin Hood" which opens with a great little heroic fanfare, the sweet, lovely "Atta", heartbreakingly sad "Don't Come Back", and pretty much all of the action-packed finale, encompassing "Grasshoppers' Return", the magnificent "The Bird Flies", "Ants Fight Back" and "Victory".  

Finally, Newman wraps things up with a nice summary of a couple of the main themes in the suite that closes the album.  It makes for a fine end to a fine album.  While Pixar has moved away from Newman (perhaps he just needed a break for a while), he is as good as anyone could be at scoring their great movies, and will make a welcome return next year for Cars.  His music has such relentless energy, it's difficult to find a bad word to say about it.  This one's highly recommended.  There was actually an Oscar promo CD for A Bug's Life featuring extra score cues which sometimes appears on Ebay, though they don't offer much more than is already here.  What is here is a truly wonderful score for an animation, one of the finest.

Buy this CD from by clicking here!


  1. The Time of Your Life Randy Newman (3:16)
  2. The Flik Machine (2:54)
  3. Seed to Tree (1:01)
  4. Red Alert (1:49)
  5. Hopper and his Gang (3:21)
  6. Flik Leaves (2:37)
  7. Circus Bugs (1:27)
  8. The City (2:35)
  9. Robin Hood (:59)
  10. Return to Colony (1:33)
  11. Flik's Return (1:24)
  12. Loser (2:43)
  13. Dot's Rescue (4:00)
  14. Atta (1:08)
  15. Don't Come Back (1:07)
  16. Grasshoppers' Return (3:01)
  17. The Bird Flies (2:38)
  18. Ants Fight Back (2:14)
  19. Victory (2:33)
  20. A Bug's Life (5:12)