Movie Review – Chicken Run

Chicken Run

Directed by Nick Park and Peter Lord.

Starring the voices of Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Miranda Richardson, Jane Horrocks, and Benjamin Whitrow.

I’ve always been a fan of stop motion animation and it’s sibling, claymation. With the rush to computer animation going on, it’s a medium that’s starting to get overlooked. That’s why I thought it was cool when I first heard about Chicken Run. Here, in this world of CGI shiny things, was a good old fashioned claymation film.

Things aren’t going that well for Ginger (Sawalha). She’s a chicken, and all her life she’s known nothing but imprisonment on Tweedy’s Chicken Farm. She longs for freedom, and dreams of what’s over that hill on the horizon. Sure, she could escape, but she fears what will happen to her fellow chickens who would get left behind: scatterbrained Babs (Horrocks), Scottish engineer Mac, old rooster/soldier Fowler (Whitrow), and all the others. So, all her escape plans involve everyone escaping. Things soon start to seem futile, but then Rocky the Flying Rooster (Gibson) drops in from the sky. Since he’s billed as the flying rooster, it seems that salvation is at hand: he can teach everyone to fly over the fence. Soon, it becomes a race against time. Mrs. Tweedy (Richardson) is frustrated over the dropping price of eggs, and wants to switch to producing the more profitable chicken pies. She has even begun building the pie-making machine. Can Rocky and Ginger save all the chickens before they all become pies?

Only one word describes this film: cute. The entire design of the chicken farm is meant to resemble a World War II POW camp, and there are lots of subtle references to POW films. Even the music is meant to conjure up memories of those films. Gibson does great as the cocky American rooster, and even manages to slip in a subtle reference to Braveheart. The film was mostly made in England, so you’ll find that dry, British wit underlying the whole movie. With cute characters, funny jokes, and a great reference to Star Trek at the climax, it’s hard to hate this film. Truly an animation treat this summer.

3 Nibs