CHICKEN LITTLE (2005)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 21 minutes

MPAA Rating: G

CL poster

Directed by: Mark Dindal

Written by: Steve Bencich, Ron J. Friedman, Ron Anderson

Voices of: Zach Braff, Joan Cusack, Steve Zahn, Amy Sedaris, Garry Marshall, Don Knotts, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Patrick Stewart, Wallace Shawn, Patrick Warburton, Adam West

Everybody is more than happy to talk about what a great company Disney is. So much so, that many people seem to forget that the studio also has its fair share of disappointments and just plain bad movies. CHICKEN LITTLE is one of the latter. The idea to turn the well-known fable into a computer-animated feature is a strange concept in itself. Throwing in some forced humor and unlikable characters causes the entire film falls apart in many respects.

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A tiny rooster sees a piece of the sky fall and rings the emergency school bell, which causes all sorts of destructive havoc to take place in the town of Oakey Oaks. Upon arriving at the scene, the piece of the sky has mysteriously vanished and the entire town believes that Chicken Little, the aptly named tiny rooster, imagined the whole thing. After a year has passed, the town still regards Chicken Little as crazy and his distant father wants nothing to do with him. Only three outcast animals are his friends. These being: Abby (a.k.a. Ugly Duckling), Fish (out of water) and Runt (of the litter). In order to make his father proud, Chicken Little joins the baseball team, but it appears that the sky may be falling again…

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One thing should be fairly noticeable in the plot description and that’s how tongue-in-cheek the names of Chicken Little’s friends are. It seems that the (three!) screenwriters were extremely desperate to throw everything they had at the wall and see what would stick. Most of it falls and falls hard! CHICKEN LITTLE is a movie that will entertain children (as it’s purpose really is first and foremost) but will bore teenagers and have many adults rolling their eyes. A good family film is one that the whole family can enjoy and not just a select age group. The visuals are frankly a bit ugly here and it adds to just how terrible most of the characters are. I understand that this is an important element in the story being told, but some of these side characters are just outright cruel (adults included).

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Besides the script being rather lame, the plot is also at a drastically rushed pace. We barely have time to register one scene before the next one comes barreling along at an out-of-control speed. New plot elements are thrown in without a second’s thought and the movie resorts to cheap jokes, rather than well-constructed ones. Disney can do many different kinds of stories right. They’ve executed plenty of imaginative fairy tales, re-constructions of well-known classics, and even science-fiction. The studio has even done stupid humor very well in their funniest film (by far) THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE. This makes CHICKEN LITTLE feel that much more disappointing. I’d expect something of this quality from Fox Animation or even Sony, but definitely not Disney!

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With all my whining and moaning about how bad CHICKEN LITTLE is, you may wonder is there anything redeemable about this film. Actually, a couple of good jokes are set up well in advance. There’s also a cameo appearance (voice-wise) in the conclusion that had me laughing out loud. For a movie so ugly in visuals and dumb in story, the movie seems to capture the plotline of Chicken Little trying to make his father proud in a bit of an admirable light. Even if most of the other things suck, CHICKEN LITTLE does get this very important part of the plot right and it must be commended for doing so. It remains a bad movie and one of Disney’s weakest animated efforts. CHICKEN LITTLE is terrible and makes you wonder why anybody even bothered with it to begin with.

Grade: D+

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