September 19, 1988 12:00 PM

Ants lack the cuddlesome qualities of, say, bear cubs or kittens. Come to think of it, in the cuddlesome department, they are right in there with weasels and Gaboon vipers. So the producers of this 100-minute animated feature deserve credit for at least trying something different. The story is set in an ant colony, the main characters are all ants with such names as Shando and Teetor, and they speak English mixed with peculiar, seemingly pointless variations, such as calling their heads “tunks” and their hands “habs.” Shando, the star, is a shiftless but essentially thoughtful young ant—think of James Dean with antennae—who is waiting to acquire his “Ka-Bump.” This process seems to be a distant relation of puberty, but whatever it is, Shando isn’t ready for it. So he has to prove himself to Teetor, the colony’s venerable “major mentor.” He also has to endure 14 rather tedious original songs, whose lyrics are righteóus but not in the funky sense: “We are one/ Young and old/ Bonded by/ The strongest hold.” Shando goes through a few scary moments when he thinks he’s blind, and he has to deal with a two-headed (one at each end) serpent, but this story doesn’t even reach the level of intensity of an average Smurfs adventure. It’s very slow going in fact, though as a change of pace it might be worth trying out, particularly for the youngsters who are thinking about a career in entomology. (Celebrity, $39.95; 800-445-8210)

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