Why did the chicken cross the road?
There may be many reasons for this, but I think we can rule out that he might have been going to the movies to see Chicken Little.
Don’t you just hate it when parents try to be ‘down with the kids’? In the case of Chicken Little, Disney was the parent. After seeing TV spots and trailers for Chicken Little, I have to say that the desire to run to the cinema to see it did not overcome me. Type ‘Chicken Little Dance’ into YouTube if you’re curious.
The film is based on the tale of Henny Penny, and in the classroom scene at the start of the film, the register is read out, using names from the book for the children such as Goosey Loosey and Henny Penny. The original tale had been used by Disney for an animated short during WWII for the U.S government, telling that fear-mongering costs lives, and using the character of Foxy Loxy for the role of Adolf Hitler.
Now, back to 2005’s Chicken Little. Unfortunately, it seemed to me to be another film which could be grouped into the tidal wave of flops which crashed out of the Disney studios throughout the 2000s. Granted, there were films such as Lilo and Stitch and Brother Bear which were of a higher standard, but the film we see here is very questionable.
The story is, in a way, disheartening. Chicken Little is a young child looked after by his widowed father, who likes to keep his son out of trouble as to not attract unwanted attention. Whenever he tries to talk to his father he is ignored, and not supported at all. After our main character (played by Zach Braff) frightens the life out of the town and causes chaos at the very start of the film by exclaiming that the sky is falling, everyone thinks that he’s crazy after realising that it was only an acorn which fell on him. The story is set, got it out of the way in one scene, nicely done, nothing too complex. We are then introduced to the school environment, where it becomes more apparent that it is not only chickens or dogs living in the town, it is all types of animals. It’s a little odd. We then have a gym class segment, cue more pop culture to the tune of ‘Everybody Dance Now’, with one of the students break dancing. To be exact, it is a break dancing fish wearing a diving helmet, which I guess could be construed as slightly amusing…
Along with the fish, Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack) is one of our hero’s best friends, who is very goofy looking, and does have the same aura about her as Dory from Finding Nemo, a bit dippy. Another friend, Runt, is an extremely large pig, and seems to have quite a strange character design as he is beyond huge compared to the other characters, but I guess it’s just politically correct!
After winning a baseball game and managing to do something right for once, we get (sarcasm voice) treated…to Chicken Little singing some Queen, another one of the countless pop references in this film. Less than five minutes later, Chicken Little’s best friends are seen to be dancing around to the Spice Girls, and the helmet wearing fish has even been provided with a glowstick. I remember when Beauty danced with the Beast to music composed for the film, not ten year old pop band music recycled and used as ‘karaoke’ to fill in some screen time.
Before we know it, the sky really is falling, complete with, and wait for it…aliens. You heard me right. They may have three eyes, but they are not a patch on the Toy Story phenomenon. They storm around the town in their flying saucers and War of the Worlds style fighting machines on three legs, wreaking havoc. Another helping of pop history is served to us through a brief rendition of ‘I Will Survive’ from Runt whilst doing his good deed to help save the town. It soon becomes apparent that the aliens have left their child in the town, and simply want to get him back, in a Wizard of Oz style scene with only the faces of the aliens showing.
Happy endings all round of course, and I don’t feel bad about ‘spoiling’ what is a predictable storyline with uninteresting and strange looking characters. Oh, and if by the end you’ve had enough of those pesky pop culture references, you might want to turn off the credits.
All kudos to Zach Braff, because I do love scrubs, and he evidently tried his best to voice this character which should probably have been voiced by a 10 year old, but he just sounds way too old. It doesn’t look right at all having his voice come out of a tiny chicken; it’s just not cutesy enough.
On the up side, (because every cloud has a silver lining, even though it may only be a small one) the design of the town is quite nice, and not a million miles away from a ‘Toontown’ environment with a hint of 1950 about it. I actually picked up the Art of Chicken Little book in a £1 store, which I thought was very telling of the film’s success.
If you are lucky enough to have this little gem on DVD like I do, you will also be in possession of some special features. The only thing of interest to an older audience is probably the ‘Making of’ featurette and possibly the deleted scenes. Other features are the usual games and a ‘Music and More’ section which includes ‘Shake Your Tail Feather’ by The Cheetah Girls and three versions of ‘One Little Slip’. Looks like someone was trying to fill the DVD up!
I give this movie 1 Tink.