Chicken Run

"OK"

Chicken Run Review


It's always a pleasure to see an animated movie that eschews the trappings of shopworn formulas kiddie flicks, and the capriciously clever, clay-rendered "Chicken Run" is nothing if not unique.

A goof on "The Great Escape" and "Stalag 17," but set in a chicken coop kept by a tyrannical, hairpinned harpy of a farmer's wife, the picture serves up an charming self-confidence fable, refreshingly short on stock cartoony characters (no orphans or cutesy simian sidekicks) and long on the distinctive, malleable, stop-motion genius of its director, Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park.

Park worked hand-in-hand with Peter Lord, best known for Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" video, but the film's winning visual style is unmistakably Park's. Every character is remarkably alive with verve and personality, thanks largely to his trademarks: Ridiculously wide mouths with abbreviated rows of teeth, remarkably expressive, oversized eyeballs, ledge-like foreheads and the tendency for all his characters to walk with a little waddle.

The story centers around a daydreaming hen named Ginger (voice of Julia Sawalha, Saffron from "Absolutely Fabulous"), so determined to literally fly the coop that she's forever concocting failed escape attempts that land her in "the hole" -- a coal hopper along side the farmer's house.

When the greedy farm wife (animated with a nasty scowl and malignantly voiced by Miranda Richardson) becomes irked by low egg production, she invests in a gigantic, menacing Rube Goldberg machine that is fed chickens in one end and pops chicken pies out the other -- a development that has every chicken in the coop clucking to Ginger for a workable getaway plan.

Enter a roguish rooster named Rocky (Mel Gibson), who literally falls from the sky and charms the hen house inhabitants into believing he can teach them to fly out of there -- if only he hadn't hurt his wing when he landed in their yard, darn it.

Hunky, cocky Rocky is really on the run from a circus act and only landed in their yard because he was shot out of a cannon as part of the show. They're somehow not aware that roosters can't fly anymore than hens, so Rocky plays along. After all, he's not about to disappoint a flock of cute chicks showing him with hero worship -- at least not until he absolutely has to.

"Chicken Run" is undeniably the current zenith of the claymation art form, and while it's entertaining and certainly as original as any of Park's short films, the picture suffers some for being stretched to feature length from only about 50 minutes of good material.

Park and Lord find quality comedy in the confounded farmer (voice of Tony Haygarth), afraid he's going mad when he starts to notice the chickens organizing against him. Park's deft wit is also visible in the supporting characters, like the two shady rats (Timothy Spall and Phil Daniels) who supply their feathered friends with spoons (read: shovels) and other tools to aid in their escape. However, the chickens eventually fix on a scheme to build a makeshift airplane (silly, yes, but it works in context), leading to a hilarious last reel that makes up for many of the movie's slight shortcomings.

Gibson's goofball charisma is perfect for Rocky the rooster and Sawalha's obstinate incantations lend the heroine a perfect mix of resolution and apprehension that she must overcome. In fact, all the voice actors give their characters memorable personalities to match their toy-ready looks.

The filmmakers can even be admired for their calculated handling of the inescapable prison camp illusions. There's a dark, weighty undertone that plays subtly beneath many scenes, even when "Chicken Run" is at its funniest.

But the movie is slow-paced and packed with filler just to distend it to a mere 85 minutes. "Chicken Run" is ingenious, cutting-edge animation with a sharp story that will make for a great home video. In that format it will absolutely stand up to multiple viewings. But as a theatrical release, it's only matinee material -- fun and amazingly rendered, but ultimately a little flat.



Chicken Run

Facts and Figures

Run time: 84 mins

In Theaters: Friday 23rd June 2000

Box Office USA: $106.6M

Box Office Worldwide: $224.8M

Budget: $45M

Distributed by: Dreamworks Pictures

Production compaines: DreamWorks SKG, Pathé, Aardman Animations

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Fresh: 160 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Rocky, as Mrs. Tweedy, as Nick, as Bunty, as Babs, as Fetcher, as Mac, as Mr. Tweedy, as Ginger, as Fowler, as Circus Man, Jo Allen as Additional Chicken, as Additional Chicken, Laura Strachan as Additional Chicken

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.