The Ant Bully is a 2006 American computer-animated adventure fantasy comedy children's film written and directed by John A. Davis based on the 1999 children's book of the same name by John Nickle. It, featuring the voices of Zach Tyler Eisen, Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep and Paul Giamatti, was produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman's Playtone, John A. Davis and Keith Alcorn's DNA Productions and released in theatres on July 28, 2006 by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. Concurrently with the general release, it was offered in big screen IMAX 3D, the format also used with The Polar Express. This is also the first animated one produced by Legendary Pictures, the third feature one produced by DNA Productions. Just before its release, most of the DNA employees were laid off. Several found work at Dallas' Reel FX Creative Studios. It was the last film role by Ricardo Montalban before his death in 2009. The film earned $55.2 million on a $50 million budget.
Set in suburban Las Vegas, Nevada, 10-year-old Lucas Nickle (Zach Tyler Eisen) is being tormented by a bully and his gang. In turn, he attacks an anthill with a squirt gun which terrifies the ants. One ant, an eccentric wizard named Zoc (Nicolas Cage), tries to fight back but is overwhelmed by Lucas. His girlfriend, a nurse ant named Hova (Julia Roberts), attempts to communicate with Lucas, but is saved by Zoc. The leaders of the colony decide to use a potion created by Zoc, to shrink Lucas down to ant size to punish him, for aiding destruction on their hill.
His parents, who fail to understand his problems, go to Puerto Vallarta for the weekend, leaving him with his older sister, Tiffany, and their grandmother, who is obsessed over aliens.
Meanwhile, the local exterminator, Stan Beals (Paul Giamatti), convinces Lucas to sign a contract to kill vermin. He eventually accepts the offer. At night, Zoc and a small troop of ants sneak up and pour the potion into Lucas's ear where he wakes up being discovered to be shrunk down to ant size. He is carried to the anthill into a world of giant caves, caterpillars, and ants. During the trial, Zoc insists that he should be studied then eaten, but he is overruled by the Queen (Meryl Streep). She sentences him to hard labor. Hova volunteers to train him, much to Zoc's objections. Soon afterwards, they become friends learing more about differences between ants and humans. But when she forces him to forage for jelly beans with Kreela (Regina King) and her husband, Fugax (Bruce Campbell), he ends up unsuccessful. Later that day, the ants are attacked by wasps. Lucas finds a discarded firecracker and uses it to destroy the attacker wasp and scare the other ones away. The ants begins to admire Lucas, except for Zoc, who grows jealous of him.
By nightfall, Lucas is introduced to honeydew and quickly becomes sick only to be cured by Hova. Together, they wander in the chamber of ages where he is shown a painting which depicts the Great Ant Mother and the evil Cloud-Breather (Stan Beals). He is told that the Great Ant Mother will return and shower the ants with honeydew, while the Cloud-Breather will spell destruction for all of them. He and his friends go back to his house, where he tries to call Stan to cancel the contract but calls a pizza restaurant instead. Then Tiffany comes home and they are forced to escape down the kitchen sink's drain.
When Zoc finds out that Lucas put Hova in possible danger, he accuses him of further treachery and tells him that he should find another wizard because there is no way that he will give him the potion to return him back to normal size again. He is then eaten by a frog, with Hova, Kreela, and Fugax in pursuit, but Zoc soon frees him and returns to the others, stating that an ant will sacrifice his life for his friends. Afterwards Zoc and Lucas discuss their differences. Zoc explains that ants work for the benefit of the colony. Lucas states that most humans work for personal gain. Zoc is confused as to how anything gets accomplished in Lucas' world.
The next morning, Lucas finds the Great Ant Mother approaching. He discovers that it is actually a giant balloon strapped to the top of Stan Beals' van used as a symbol for pest control. The ants enlist the aid of the wasps to stop Stan for aiding chaos. At first, they threaten Lucas, but hearing that their hill will be destroyed by Stan, they agree to help. During the battle with Stan, Lucas saves the lives of Hova and an injured wasp. Both the ants and wasps are no match against pesticide, but just as Stan is about to exterminate the anthill, a beetle and glowworm manage to bite him in the crotch. Lucas injects him with a shrinking potion, misshaping him, and forcing him to escape on a tricycle. The group returns to the colony, where Lucas is hailed as a hero for his brave actions. Zoc, having understood who he is, gives him the potion and he returns to his normal size. His parents return from their trip and reunites with him. He managed to beat the bigger bully by getting the other Kronies to join him and be "bigger" than the bully, while his former ones become his friends. Before leaving he gives a bag of jelly beans to the colony, much to their happiness.
- Julia Roberts as Hova, a nurse ant who is assigned to teach Lucas about the ways of the ant. She ends up being his closest friend in the colony. She is Zoc's girlfriend. She is a kind ant who believes that communicating with the humans will help benefit the colony and make the future for all ants brighter.
- Nicolas Cage as Zoc, a wizard ant who gives the ant bully the tonic that made him shrink. He is Hova's boyfriend. Zoc has a hatred for humans and anger issues. But after communicating with Lucas he sees the similarities between them and accepts him into the colony.
- Meryl Streep as The Queen Ant. She is a kind and wise ruler, who believes changing Lucas's ways with make a brighter future for all ants.
- Paul Giamatti as Stan Beals, a local exterminator.
- Zach Tyler Eisen as Lucas Nickle (known to the ants as Peanut The Destroyer), a clever boy whose family has moved into a new neighborhood where he gets tortured by a bully. The ants, hoping to change him and make a brighter future for the colony, teach him the ways of the ant.
- Regina King as Kreela, a Forager ant. She is Fugax's smart, mature wife and Hova's best friend.
- Bruce Campbell as Fugax, a Scout ant. He is Kreela's dim-witted but loveable husband.
- Lily Tomlin as Grandma
- Cheri Oteri as Doreen Nickle, Lucas' mother
- Creagen Dow as Steve, the local neighborhood bully who likes to torture Lucas.
- Larry Miller as Fred Nickle, Lucas' father
- Richard Green as Wasp Leader
- Jake T. Austin as Nicky
- Don Frye as Soldier Ant
- Ricardo Montalban as The Head of Council
- Allison Mack as Tiffany Nickle, Lucas' older sister
- Rob Paulsen as Beetle
- Mark DeCarlo as Fly
Additional voices were provided by Tyler James Williams, Jaishon Fisher, Frank Welker, Tom Kenny, Neil Ross, Bob Joles, Wally Wingert, Leon Morenzie, Johnathan Cook, Clive Robertson, S. Scott Bullock, Zack Shada (uncredited), Benjamin Bryan (uncredited), and Jordan Orr (uncredited).