random reviews, recollections & reminiscings

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

REEL REVIEW: Chicken Little (2005) **

Chicken Little (2005) teaser

Rated G (Action/Adventure, Comedy and Animation)
1 hr. 21 min.
written by Richard L. Baird, Steve Bencich, & Dan Gerson
produced by Randall Fullmer
directed by Mark Dindal

So, last Friday night a bunch of us went out to celebrate Alicia & Adrian's birthdays. We did dinner and a movie. Dinner was a blast but, the movie sucked. Or rather....clucked! Yep, Disney's CHICKEN LITTLE was a pretty lame "chick flick." He, I promise I won't use that again.

You may ask, "Well, then why review it if it was so bad?" It wasn't horrible. I did laugh (those with me can attest to that). Regardless, of how good or bad a movie is, it still needs reviewing, folks. It never stops those writers that get paid for it. Good or bad, it's still some thin' to write about. And that's what I'm gonna do....give ya the good and the bad. But, first let's look at what this was supposed to have been about....

We all know the children's story of Chicken Little who alerted his fellow towns-er-anthropomorphic-people that the sky was falling, sending them into a furry and/or feathered frenzy! In the story what fell on Chicken Little's head was an acorn. Leaving Chicken feeling humiliated and looking pretty dumb.

In this movie, what hit him was actually the sky! Yep, the sky was indeed falling! Ahhh! Yeah, turns out Earth is being attacked by outer space! Yet because the whole town knows that Chicken Little cried fowl, er, foul with the acorn business earlier, he's not taken seriously. It's up to Little and his duck, pig, & fish pals to convince them otherwise, save the Earth and not get fried! Heh...fried.

Now, I knew that going in. It said it all in the trailer that's been out for the past year. I never thought I'd actually go see this movie unless I was taking my 4 year old niece and 5 year old nephew. But last Friday, I just kinda went along for the ride with the gang (hey, when it's my B-day, I'll decide). The last non-Pixar Disney movie I enjoyed was Lilo & Stitch, so I guess I was open seeing that this was Disney's first computer animated venture into animation since splitting from Pixar (bad move Disney).
Okay, so here's the bad. The writing is just lame. The fact that there are three writers for a movie this simple is not a good sign. I mean, we know that this is aimed at kids and families but it can still be written well. Finding Nemo and The Incredibles are great examples of well-written animated films for all ages. Kids, parents, and grandparents can all enjoy those two movies. The best thing Pixar movies did with their films is they didn't need to break away into a music video or musical montage at every other scene in order to progress a plot or showcase a new single from The Barenaked Ladies. You know why? Cuz in Pixar, the writing is always stellar!

Because the writing in Chicken Little was so flat and formulaic, it became an exercise in great animation. Wait, great animation? Well, yeah. It was animated really well. It's just the story that sucked eggs!

The good is that the characters were for the most part well-acted. In animation it takes two aspects to make a character well-acted. And that is 1.) the voice-actor and 2.) the actual art teams bringing movement to the characters. Both of these aspects were well executed. Zach Braff (Chicken Little) does a great job supplying a geeky, insecure-yet-optimistic voice as does the actors who play his pals, Joan Cusack (Ugly Duckling Abby Mallard) and Steve Zahn (Runt of the Litter). My favorite character was Fish Out of Water (see pic above) who was silent but spoke volumes through his facial expressions and body language. He was one of those characters who is silent-but-all-knowing with a fun-loving loyalty about him. This is a character where the artists really excelled in both the design and acting.

There's a great scene at their high school where the Coach (voiced by director Mark Dindal who also supplied the voice of Morkupine Porcupine) has all the kids play indoor dodgeball. The movement and desperation of the characters as Little and all his geek-outcast pals are being picked on, especially poor Runt, is done so well that you literally do flashback to the days back in grade school when we played dodgeball during indoor recess....well, at least I did. The antagonist bully Foxey Loxey (the wonderful Amy Sedaris) is over the top in this scene and everywhere else. There were also some great characters like Mayor Turkey Lurkey (Don Knotts), teacher Mr. Woolensworth (Patrick Stewart), and Little's dad Buck (Garry Marshall).

All of these actors talents came through in the animated expression of their roles making the movie tolerable but just not enough to recommend ya go see it. It's a rental. When ya go over to babysit for a friend, bring it. There's nothing offensive about it except what can usually be offensive to the average person with an intelligence that can decipher the difference between Chicken Parmesan and Chicken Nuggets.

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