3 August 2000 | Movie-12
Animation at its best, with outstanding characters and a clever story. ***1/2 (out of four)
CHICKEN RUN / (2000) ***1/2 (out of four)
"Chicken Run," DreamWorks Picture's newest animation festival, is an old-fashioned fairy tale with more heart and truth than most movies can even imagine about containing. The film's animated style contains state-of-the-art clay-animation techniques, which make it worth the trip to the multiplex just for feasting your eyes on such brilliant special effects. Directors Peter Lord and Nick Park, with co-writer Karey Kirkpatrick, give the characters depth, reason, and dimension-even if the main star is a feathered farm animal that converges with his companions about political matters.
"Chicken Run" details the miserable lives of a clan of chickens being withheld within a sinister dairy farm in 1950's England. Ginger (voiced by Miranda Richardson) is the central character, who, along with her acquaintances, deeply lust for the sweet smell of freedom that lies beyond the constricting boundaries of their pens. The unhappy farm owners, the smart and devious Mrs. Tweedy and the dumb and precarious Mr. Tweedy, brutally dispose of chickens who fail to produce the amount of eggs they require.
When a overzealous circus Rooster named Rocky (voiced by Mel Gibson) stumbles onto the farm one evening, the other chickens blackmail him into teaching them how to escape. This is also when the Tweetys lurch up a devilish new plan to strike it rich by purchasing a machine that will turn innocent chickens into merchandising pot pies.
The film's plot is steady, solid, and knowing; it portrays a series of events that gradually build tension eventually inducing an exciting climax that is both conclusive and satisfying. "Chicken Run" is a precise piece of filmmaking, an inoffensive family adventure that will entertain audiences of all ages.
Regardless of how well crafted it is or how artful the material, the movie is about chickens escaping out of their pen in order to find genuine independence. No, the stakes are not nearly high enough, and with a plot like this, it is only natural for some audiences to expect a shallow, cheap cartoon publicity stunt. However, the filmmakers make this movie feel original, fresh, suspenseful, and involving, regardless if the main characters are chickens with patriotic instincts.