Written by Steve Bencich and Ron J. Friedman
Directed by Mark Dindal
Running Time: 1:22
Chicken Little was a cute movie, but not a fantastic one. Disney may be on the path to animated greatness to compete with the likes of Pixar, but they're not there just yet.
Poor Chicken Little. A year ago, he said the sky was falling and no one believed him. Now, his father doesn't respect him, the townspeople think he's insane, and the kids at school like to pick on him. They even made a movie about his life, and it's not very flattering. So Chicken Little decides to try and make today a new day. But for every good thing he does, a bad one happens. Determined to make his father proud, Chicken Little joins the baseball team and gets the winning hit for the championship! And then, the sky falls on his head again. And once again, his father doesn't believe him. But this time, everyone is going to know that Chicken Little isn't a liar. Because this time, the world might be coming to an end.
Chicken Little is Disney's first foray into 100% CGI animation. In the past they've done partial CGI and partial hand drawn. The results aren't bad, but they're not great. The key, in my opinion, to a good animated film is good looking animation and a solid, entertaining story. The animation feels a little jagged to me. For instance, look at the movie Antz vs. A Bug's Life. It's not so much that the A Bug's Life had such an amazing storyline that it made it a better movie, it's that to me, the animation was happier looking and more pleasing to the eye. The characters in Antz didn't look cute enough, in fact, they looked kind of scary. I think animated movies such as these, need to have really cute looking characters in order for people to be happy looking at them. The characters in Chicken Little didn't flow as nicely as other animated characters. They all looked rough around the edges. Chicken Little himself was nice enough, but not really a cute and cuddly character.
The story wasn't bad since it tweaks a well known children's story. It takes place a year after Chicken Little says the sky is falling, and we get to see the fallout from that mistake. The tale of Chicken Little wanting to get acceptance from his father is a universal one, but the biggest problem I had, and the reason the movie didn't click with me totally, was that there was too much sad downtime in the film. There were these long periods where Chicken Little would be moping about how his father didn't listen to him and even in a short 80 minute movie, it really slowed the story down. I know in a lot of great animated films, there are sad moments and you can't have a movie that's 100% non-stop comedy and action, but again, the down times felt long and didn't flow with the rest of the movie.
The voice talent in the movie was actually pretty good. Zach Braff did the voice of Chicken Little and he made Chicken sound older and more mature than other creatures his age, which he was. He was a smart little chicken that managed to think his way out of situations, but also didn't listen to other people all the time. Steve Zahn was the voice of Runt of the Litter (man I love some of the character names) and Steve's voice is funny even when he's the one acting, so sticking him on a large pig is priceless. Joan Cusack was the voice of Abby Mallard a.k.a. The Ugly Duckling, who was best friends with Chicken Little (and has a little crush on him!) Garry Marshall was the voice of Buck Cluck, Chicken Little's father and it made me think... why do they have different last names? The movie featured a couple of original songs, and a lot of older pop songs, which is always fun. How can you not laugh when a large scared pig is singing the Bee Gee's Staying Alive? To me, that might have been the funniest moment in the movie. There were some genuine laugh out loud moments in the movie, that's for sure.
I saw the movie in 3D (a handful of theaters around the country are showing the movie in 3D) and it was pretty fun. There wasn't a lot of that, we're gonna throw stuff at the audience to make them jump, kind of stuff, but watching a movie in 3D is always an entertaining experience. I'm hoping that the technology becomes cheaper and easier to use so that all movies can be released that way. I would certainly be OK with paying an extra $1-2 to see a movie in 3D. It just makes you feel like you're more a part of the action. And there are sequences in Chicken Little that benefited from that, like an early scene where Chicken is running to school, or towards the end when the aliens attack. Speaking of aliens, I did feel that they were scary enough that small children may be frightened. They're creepy looking, like straight out of the recent War of the Worlds remake, and they take no prisoners. Of course, things end up OK in the end, but leading up to that, they can be scary looking.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked Chicken Little, but thought it could have been better. The animation was good, but not great, and the story was solid, but dragged on at times. The ending might be a little scary for young kids, but for the most part, it's a good family film.
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