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Overall Rating

Awesome: 1.47%
Worth A Look: 17.65%
Just Average: 30.88%
Pretty Crappy38.24%
Sucks: 11.76%

7 reviews, 26 user ratings

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Chicken Little
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Memo to Disney-Your Stock is Falling!"
3 stars

Since the six feature films to date from Pixar Animation–the “Toy Story” movies, “A Bug’s Life,” “Monster’s Inc.,” “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles”–have become the closest thing to a sure bet in Hollywood today, all of the other major studios have attempted to replicate their winning formula with their own home-grown experiments in computer-animation with varying degrees of success. Therefore, it isn’t that much of a surprise to learn that Disney Studios, who distributed all of the Pixar works, would take a shot at it themselves when it appeared that their distribution agreement was going to terminate after the release of next year’s “Cars” (at this time, though, there are reports that the two may reconcile after all). What is a surprise is that, even after a decade-plus of working with Pixar, they would come up with a film, “Chicken Little,” that would suffer from the same flaws of so many of the other imitators–the delusion that fancy visuals, star voice artists and a script studded with jokey pop-culture references and song cues were the elements that audiences responded to with the Pixar films and not such apparently trivial elements as a compelling story and fully-developed characters.

Based very tenuously on the traditional childhood fable, the film begins as Chicken Little (Zach Braff) spies what appears to be a piece of the sky falling from the sky and sounds an alarm to warn his hometown of Oakley Oaks. When he can’t prove it, he becomes an instant laughingstock to the town at large and an embarrassment to his well-meaning but disbelieving father (Garry Marshall). A year passes and Chicken Little is still mocked and reviled by everyone except for his other misfit pals–ugly duckling Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack), enormous swine Runt of the Litter (Steve Zahn) and the self-explanatory Fish Out of Water. In an effort to win his father’s respect (and to pad out the film’s running time), Chicken Little decides to follow in his athletic footsteps and tries out for the school baseball team. Improbably, he manages to win the big game and everything seems to be back to normal for him.

That night, however, another piece of the “sky” comes crashing down into Chicken Little’s bedroom. Afraid to tell his father about it, Chicken Little and his friends go out to investigate. It turns out that it is really a cloaking panel from a spaceship parked nearby and when they investigate, they find evidence that suggests that an invasion of Earth is imminent. They escape but Chicken Little rings the alarm again, the ship has disappeared by the time the townspeople can arrive and they are all convinced that he is lying again and ignore his warnings. Unfortunately for all involved, the aliens, in their haste, have left one of their own behind and decide to launch a full-scale assault in order to retrieve their comrade and it is up to Chicken Little to return the lost creature and save everything from utter destruction.

If there was still a market for theatrical shorts, beyond the occasional animated cartoon that appears before a children’s movie that is running a few minutes short, I can seen how “Chicken Little” might have made for an engaging half-hour film. At 90 minutes, however, the slender plot is stretched to the breaking point and beyond. Too many scenes–such as the baseball interlude, a earlier one involving dodgeball and the alien attack in the last third–go on for far too long and most viewers will find themselves growing restless after a while. Another tactic that the filmmakers use to pad things out is a series of pointless musical interludes–we get a couple of montages scored to weak new songs from the Barenaked Ladies, an end-credit rendition of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and a truly inexplicable bit where several of the characters break into Spice Girls karaoke. Aside from padding out the soundtrack album and ensuring endless play on the Disney radio stations, there is no legitimate reason for any of these songs to appear and there is certainly no reason for any of them to be given so much screen time.

Another problem with “Chicken Little,” is that while it tries to maintain the hectic joke-a-minute pace of things like the “Shrek” films, the efforts never quite amount to much because it is nothing more than a bunch of random jokes strung together. Films like the Pixar movies or the recent “Wallace & Gromit” movies all had more than their fair share of enormous laughs but the difference is that in those films, the humor emerged from the story and the characters–in the latter, we understand where the canine Gromit is coming from to such a degree that he can score a big laugh with just the slightest facial expression. Here, what little personality that the characters have comes solely from the personalities supplying their voices–Cusack and Marshall do some nice readings and the couple chosen to play the aliens at the finale (to reveal their names would spoil the joke) are spot-on perfect–instead of the screenplay. Instead, the writers spend their time devising all sorts of references to other, better films with varying degrees of success–an early nod to “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is funny but later stabs at “King Kong” and “War of the Worlds” are a little more desperate.(With the latter, they even have a character exclaim, “Wow, it’s like something out of ‘War of the Worlds.’”) If I wanted to see an animated entertainment featuring thinly-developed animated characters and out-of-left-field pop-culture references, I would stay home and watch “Family Guy.”

Although “Chicken Little” has its share of virtues–it has a nice visual style and the inimitable presence of Don Knotts as the cowardly Mayor Turkey Lurkey–and parents can safely take their kids to it with the assurance that their brood will be reasonably entertained and/or distracted. However, if one compares it to other current family films such as “Wallace & Gromit” and “Dreamer,” it comes in a poor third. Those films are bright, cheerful and entertaining but they also thoughtfully included well-developed stories into the mix that viewers of all ages would find compelling. “Chicken Little,” on the other hand, is basically pitched at the youngest viewers and while it will probably satisfy them, it probably won’t have the same effect on anyone whose age has drifted into the double-digits.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13462&reviewer=389
originally posted: 11/03/05 23:55:56
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User Comments

10/05/13 Shane Meh. 3 stars
10/18/11 Magic Even Dreamworks Animation would have been ashamed if they made this movie. 2 stars
5/02/08 Pamela White no plot, kids thought it was stupid 2 stars
6/25/07 nana quite funny 4 stars
6/15/07 Vincent Ebriega It takes more than just animation to make this nonsense any good. 1/5. 1 stars
4/24/07 Tiffany Losco good movie, I love chicken little 4 stars
3/31/07 fools♫gold Don't get your hopes up too much, the "kids" I'm near even said it was so-so. 2 stars
9/01/06 Chad Thomas Cute, especially for the kids! 4 stars
7/20/06 David Cohen They had to pad the film just to get to the parts with more padding 2 stars
6/29/06 George Hey Mark, learn to write a story!!!!! 1 stars
5/05/06 Cuenzie Wunzie 10! Sorry out of 10 or 100? Yeah 10\ 100 . 1 stars
4/22/06 Poopy Woopy Wheres the Fucking story!!!!!! 1 stars
4/14/06 Tabitha bad plot a 9 year old could write a better story 2 stars
4/05/06 Chris P. I liked its storyline and how it kinda took parts from other movies in a way nobody noticed 5 stars
4/01/06 JRE too many plots; was like 3 short movies in one 2 stars
3/28/06 tatum Funny, nowhere near the disaster reported 4 stars
3/27/06 Brian Meyer Walt Disney will rise from his grave to take revenge for this insult! 1 stars
1/10/06 Tamara D.Leonard Cute movie, the kids loved it. 3 stars
12/31/05 Jasper Poop 1 stars
11/16/05 Rebo Valence Pixar has nothing to fear from this turkey. 2 stars
11/13/05 NPD licken' chit-tle 1 stars
11/11/05 Dan Smith My Grandson Laughed his ass off. 4 stars
11/09/05 ga ga 3 stars
11/04/05 M.F. Chicken Little lays an egg 2 stars
11/03/05 Chicken Little Chicken Little makes a very small Chicken Pie (with extra *barf*) 1 stars
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  04-Nov-2005 (G)
  DVD: 21-Mar-2006

  10-Feb-2006 (U)


Directed by
  Mark Dindal

Written by
  Mark Dindal

  Zach Braff
  Garry Marshall
  Joan Cusack
  Steve Zahn
  Amy Sedaris
  Don Knotts

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