Chicken Run

Chicken Run - One Sheet
Cast:
Mel Gibson as Rocky
Julia Swalha as Ginger
Miranda Richardson as Mrs. Tweedy
Tony Haygarth as Mr.Tweedy
Jane Horrocks as Baba
Imelda Staunton as Bunty
Benjamin Whitrow as Fowler

Summary:
The Great Escape of chick flicks, Chicken Run is a blast for adults and kids!

Story:
Trapped on Tweedy Farm, Ginger and all the other egg laying chickens yearn to escape and live life in freedom. However, after many unsuccessful escape attempts, they begin to give up hope. If only they could fly over the fence!

When Rocky the Rooster actually flies over the fence and lands in their pen, they recruit him to teach them how to fly, too, and lead their escape. But is Rocky everything he appears to be?

The situation becomes desperate when Mrs. Tweedy decides to invest in a chicken pie making machine. Ginger, Rocky, and other chickens must get away before they are turned into pies! Can they escape?

What Worked:
This movie worked great on so many levels. Kids will love it because it is cool animation, there’s a lot of physical humor, and you’ve gotta love chickens. Adults will love it because of the technical accomplishment, the subtle humor that kids will miss, and the many movie references that are hidden (and not so hidden) throughout the film. You’ll catch the blatant parodies of The Great Escape and tips of the hat to Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Psycho, and more.

I’ve always loved clay animation, so it was cool to see how the Wallace and Gromit team would pull this off. It’s obvious from the film that they didn’t hold anything back. For example, there’s a scene that calls for it to be raining. That would seem to be a particularly difficult effect to pull off with hundreds of clay rain drops needing animation, but rather than scrap it and take the easy way out by removing it, they go for it. It works beautifully.

The plot if hilarious. It manages to find ways to make you laugh with either physical humor, sight gags, or word play. The flight training has some funny moments when they try various attempts at flying. Then in one particularly gloomy moment, one of the crocheting chickens knits a colorful noose as a sign of what’s on her mind. Later on a couple of hilarious rats watch the failed flight training with comments like “Poultry in Motion!” The rats, on many occasions, also steal the scenes. Think Pinky and the Brain. All these things give it just the right funny touch.

Mel Gibson does a great job as the cocky…rooster. The rest of the cast is great as well. I highly recommend you check this out on the big screen!

What Didn’t Work:
The entire movie is silly and goofy except for one particularly grim moment toward the beginning. One chicken doesn’t lay enough eggs, so we see Mrs. Tweedy grab the terrified chicken by the neck, take it to the shed, then hack off its head with an axe (off screen, but we see shadows). I understand the need to highlight the chicken’s desperate situation, but that scene was so starkly different in tone from the rest of the film that it didn’t seem to fit. A little too dark for an otherwise lighthearted and innocent film.

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