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After watching "Chicken Run," you will become a believer of many things.
You will believe that a bunch of talking hens wearing beads and bandanas can speak with British and Scottish accents, practice martial arts, escape from inside a pie machine and secretly plot their getaway from an egg farm in 1955 England. You will believe that chickens can knit, dance, wear glasses and play the harmonica. You will believe that rats can wear bad suits and have an obsession for eggs. You will believe that roosters can fly airplanes, ride a tricycle and sing "The Wanderer."
Most importantly, you will believe that the otherwise Disney-choked world of animated films has life again, and that a tiny British studio can top the big boys from Japan and the U.S. and turn out the smartest, possibly best work of this genre ever. The one point of light in an otherwise lousy summer movie season, "Chicken Run" is something you'll want to watch over and over again. You could sit through it 31 times (like yours truly) and it never gets boring. The audienced applauded at the end during my first 13 viewings.
Aardman Studios has concocted a recipe consisting of a wonderful (albeit portly and feathered) cast, a funny, intelligent script, a gripping score, excellent cinematography and production design, plus great voice work, all mixed with years of labor and love, and the result is what is easily the best film of 2000. When was the last time you saw a movie with a cast nearly all-female, no less so determined and believable in their mission for freedom, and whom you cared so strongly about that you were actually cheering for them to be successful?
"Chicken Run" may be the first animated film that is an absolute joy for both children and adults. Children will be tickled by the jocularity of these hens, while adults will find pleasure in discovering homages to classic prison films "The Great Escape," "Stalag 17" and even "The Shawshank Redemption," among others.
Screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick has come up with a sharp script, which has all but become a lost art in the movie world these days. The dialogue is loaded with puns that work so well. The British slang is a delight, and makes the chickens' personalities more endearing and dare I say it human.
One of the best lines comes from Mrs. Tweedy talking lovingly about her soon-to-be chicken pie enterprise. When Mr. Tweedy asks why she only will be included in the brand name, her reply is: "Woman's touch. Makes the public feel more comfortable." The other is Fowler's immortal "Pushy Americans, always showing up late for every war." That's simply brilliant writing.
The flawless (yes, flawless) voice cast is the heart of this movie. This is one of those rare films in which both the heroes and the villains are fun to watch. You'll find yourself thinking during the end credits, "I liked this character the best no, wait a minute, I think I like this one more no, no, I like that one."
Leading the way is Julia Sawalha, playing another character with a spicy name (from "AbFab's" Saffy to CR's Ginger), and providing the ideal heroine we moviegoers have yearned for so long. She's so convincing in this role; you're deeply immensed in Ginger's quest for free range living that you forget she's a Plasticine chicken.
It's safe to say that 2000 has been the summer of one Melvin Gibson. He doesn't disappoint with "The Patriot" or with his role as Rocky, the vagabond flying rooster (listen to his hysterical rendition of Dion's "The Wanderer"), who easily bested his squirrel namesake at the box office. The film pokes fun at him in a good-natured way, from his opening "Braveheart" gag to his nationality.
Rounding out the supporting cast is Lynn Ferguson as the genius Mac, she of the wild hen's comb and odd spectacles. Jane Horrocks is a show-stopper as the innocent yet well, bubbleheaded, knitter Babs. She doesn't have much dialogue, but definitely does the most with the least as she delivers the funniest lines in the movie with aplomb. Perhaps the film's most famous line is when she bawls "I don't want to be a pie!" Why? "I don't like gravy."
Ben Whitrow's Fowler, the old military rooster, had me in stitches with his constant rambling about his glory days in the Royal Air Force. Seriously, wouldn't we all want to be awakened by a rooster who hollers, "Cock-a-doodle-doo, what what"?
Timothy Spall and Phil Daniels are a hoot as Nick and Fetcher, the Laurel & Hardy-style farm rats. Tony Haygarth and Miranda Richardson (not straying very far from her "evil wife" role in "Sleepy Hollow") are perfect as Willard and Melisha Tweedy, the cruel owners of the prison camp er, egg farm. The loving couple is an evil version of American Gothic rendered in clay. Mrs. Tweedy is the best animated villain since Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty."
But my favorite (and this was a tough choice) was Imelda Staunton as the brusque, oversized and argumentative, yet lovable, Bunty. She was the character I related to most because my personality is sometimes like hers I think I may have finally found my role model! My favorite part in the film was watching Bunty getting down to "Flip Flop and Fly."
The ending contains the most thrilling action sequence I've seen all year. I won't dare describe it here go and experience the magic for yourself. What I will say is that I haven't had this much side-splitting fun with an ending since "Mrs. Doubtfire."
I haven't enjoyed a film like this since "Sleepy Hollow" was released 7 months earlier needless to say, this has been a period of movie ecstasy that is as rare as hens' teeth, so to speak. I'm sure nobody will care, but what I found interesting about "Chicken Run" was that it bore a striking resemblance to SH in terms of the plot: a small citizenry, kept prisoner by a villain who has a fetish for decapitation, pins their hopes of freedom on an outsider who is brash and sure of himself on the outside, yet soft and bewildered on the inside. Both movies are in my personal top 10 of all time.
After watching this, I dare anyone to find another movie that is as heartwarming, witty, suspenseful and funny as "Chicken Run." To those who feel the need to criticize this film for any reason I deeply sympathize with your lack of soul. 10/10
Chicken Run is a wonderfully entertaining movie for EVERYONE! Kids will
love the eye-candy of chickens doing absurd things and tossing off silly
one-liners. Adults will enjoy the brilliantly funny dialogue and the
engaging story. Parents will enjoy taking their kids to a movie that does
not have the Disneyesque product tie-ins and must-buy soundtrack. Movie
buffs can try to count the references to The Great Escape, Stalg 17, Star
Trek and Braveheart and may be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the
Nick Park, Peter Lord & Co. succeeded (where so many other have failed recently) in making an animated movie whose story, plot and dialogue are equal to the brilliant animation. In the wordless opening minutes we are engaged and in invited to care about these silly chickens. By the time the snappy dialogue gets rolling we've already identified with the chickens' plight. It may be a bit slow through the middle for the younger moviegoers. But the sound of laughter, cheers and applause from the whole audience as the chickens make their final bid for freedom is well worth the wait. The only sad part is we may have to wait another five years for another Aardman Animations to produce another picture of the quality.
Hailing from the animation house that brought us such jems as Morph, the
Wallace and Gromit series and Rex the Runt, Chicken Run is the first ever
feature length claymation ever attempted.
Set on a chicken farm in Yorkshire some time in the middle of the century, our plucky (sorry) heroines face a lifetime of hard labor laying for the farmers, and if their performance is not up to par they quite literally face the chop. Ginger, making her way to the top of the pecking order (sorry again) attempts jailbreak after farcical jailbreak, but success is less than forthcoming.
Enter Rocky The Rhode Island Red, (Rocky Rhodes for short, and you can't blame me for that one, the writers came up with it) apparently able to fly, the chickens look to him to help them bust this chicken coup, but Rocky is not what he may appear to be.
That's the plot in a nut (egg?) shell, and as you can imagine the subject matter made for perfect "salutes" to the classic world war 2 escape movies, references to which abound throughout. From Ginger tossing a baseball (actually a sprout) in the "cooler" (coal bunker), to Fowler's incessant ramblings about his old RAF days.
The lead characters are deep and endearing enough for you to care about what happens to them, if a little stereotypical at times. The interaction between them is fluid and believable, all the more amazing considering that Mel Gibson never even set foot in the same recording studio as the other actors, reading his lines in a studio in America instead. The supporting cast provide plenty of humour and Mrs. Tweedy substitutes quite nicely for the Nazi camp commandant.
The animation is lively and colourful the characters wonderfully expressive in that unmistakable style developed in the Wallace and Gromit shorts, and thanks to the fact the sets are real models there is plenty of scope for dramatic lighting effects.
The only real fault I could find in the film was that it just seemed a little too... American at times. Hollywood's involvement showed through the English setting to some degree, especially as you get to the movie's climax which seems to go a bit overboard, especially compared to the utterly hysterical ending to The Wrong Trousers. But all in all I have to say I really enjoyed this movie. Now all we need is a Wallace and Gromit movie.
This movie is all you could hope for in summer film fare. It had action,
suspense, romance and a large helping of comedy. I was predisposed to love
the movie, being a great fan of Wallace and Gromit, and the movie lived up
to those other award-winning works. The movie works on every level, and was
fun for all ages viewing it. Even my husband, who disdains children's
movies, was truly enjoying himself. Needless to say, the children loved it,
despite one rather gruesome off-screen moment, but that seemed not to matter
too much. All in all, I can't recommend this movie too highly, it was
incredibly entertaining and well-done.
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.
As an older gentleman with a rather refined taste in flim viewing, I was
surprised by how absorbed I got in this elaborate cartoon-like feature.
It's no mean trick to create rubber characters that you can really care
about. My favorites were Mr & Mrs Tweedy -- especially the latter. Mrs
Tweedy was the personification of evil (within the confines of a cartoon of
course) and just a thoroughly interesting character. The sets were well
done, especially the Stalag 17 camp image (notice the 17 on the meeting
hut). Lots of British stereotype stuff which worked pretty well and kept
my attention. Fast paced without becoming just another Roger
'Chicken Run' is a delighted little film about...well, chickens. I've always loved the claymation of Aardman. 'Creature Comforts' and 'Wallace and Gromit' are among many of my favorites. Aardman Studios have come up with a brilliant cast, a funny and smart script, fine cinematography and production design. The inspiration of films like 'The Great Escape' shows. The female characters are so strong and yet they have their own sense of humour and Brit-wit. Aardman's claymation is splendid. The large eyes, body size and shape and movements create this a unique class of comedy. The writing is very sharp and crisp but I disliked the obvious symbolism (of British and America joining hands to save the world and fight evil) which looked a little forced. I don't see the need to make the Rocky character an American rooster (as if it's an ingredient to have an American on board). Yet, that does not take away the sheer pleasure and entertainment one derives from the film. The voice cast is suitably chosen. Gibson plays the typical hero with charisma but it's the Brit cast, which includes names like Imelda Staunton, Lynn Ferguson, Jane Horrocks and Julia Sawalha that did it for me. Their sharp witty humour and strong will just put them on a league of their own. 'Chicken Run' is a cute, heartwarming, uplifting and hilarious little film. To quote another user, it is eggcellent!
Now, knowing what's in store for us this summer, I am probably not out on a
limb saying this, but this should be the best film this summer, if not this
Full of wit, sight gags, homage to prison escape movies, yet completely adorable and exciting to even very young children, this movie has everything you would want in a movie. I was lucky enough to catch it at a sneak preview while on vacation with my 19-year-old son while in San Francisco, and even at the price of NINE BUCKS, it was worth it.
All this and voices from two Ab Fab actresses!
The great animation director Chuck Jones has often stated that his cartoons
"weren't made for children. Neither were they made for adults. They were
made for me." Jones's seven-minute shorts were made on a far lower budget
than the animated features of today. With features, much more money is at
stake, as well as the livelihoods of more people. Because of the pressure
to make back the investment, animated features can give an impression of
being created by committee, as though tailored to fit some committee's idea
of a prefabricated audience segment. It's remarkable, then, that Aardman
Animation's "Chicken Run" shows off so much personality, the mark of a film
made not for an imagined mass audience, but because it satisfied some need
for the filmmakers-besides the need to put food on the table, that
The story revolves around an English egg farm designed a lot like a WWII-era prison camp, with overtones of the Nazi concentration camps as well, in that chickens that don't produce end up as dinner. While most of the chickens are resigned to their fate, one plucky hen named Ginger keeps leading escape attempts and keeps getting locked in "solitary" for her pains. Her task takes on new urgency when the Tweedys (the couple who run the farm) prepare to convert their operation into a chicken-pie factory. Hope arrives in the form of an American known (amusingly, in view of the recent "Rocky & Bullwinkle" film) as "Rocky the Flying Rooster", whom Ginger thinks can teach the chickens how to fly. Naturally, Rocky isn't really what he seems to be, and the revelation of his secret threatens to dash all hope of escape, because everyone knows chickens can't fly-or can they?
Unlike most cartoon films, "Chicken Run" is animated using clay figures in stop-motion. While this process involves much more labor than drawn animation, it also makes easier the use of many of the tools of live-action filmmaking, such as dramatic lighting and moving camera work. Directors Peter Lord and Nick Park both have considerable experience in this field, Park with "Creature Comforts" and the "Wallace & Gromit" series (perhaps the most popular animated shorts of the 1990's) and Lord as a co-founder (with David Sproxton) of Aardman and director of such shorts as "Adam", "Wat's Pig", and "Early Bird".
The look of "Chicken Run" displays a harmonious blending of Park's and Lord's strengths; the character designs have the cartoony look of Park's work, while the more realistic settings and backdrops (which appear subject to grime and weathering) are typical of those in Lord's films. All the major characters are distinctive and believable on their own terms; even the numerous chickens have their own distinct looks and voices. The only times the illusion of believability fails are when a clay chicken collides with a metal fence; I half expect to see the clay figure sliced up on the way through. (This may be a personal reaction, conditioned by years of exposure to "Tom & Jerry" and "Roadrunner/Coyote" cartoons.) The story moves efficiently and contains much humor and detail that reward close attention, as well as bravura set-pieces such as Rocky and Ginger's dramatic encounter with the Tweedys' pie machine.
While it has justifiably been compared with military prison-camp escape movies such as "Stalag 17" and "The Great Escape", as well as with the revisionist farm-animal melodrama "Babe", the movie "Chicken Run" resembles most is Pixar's computer-animated "A Bug's Life". The resemblence lies partly in certain details of plot (such as the hero[es] who isn't/aren't what he/they seem to be) but mostly in the nature of the story itself. While human prisoners have a life before prison upon which to look back upon, the chickens in this movie have never known such freedom. Thus, when Ginger talks of escape, she not only urges them to change their location but their entire way of thinking. In chicken terms, this is a radical message, the same one put forth by all the great human radical organizers: that those who are exploited have a right to expect a better life. Though the species and the methods of exploitation are different, "A Bug's Life" shares this revolutionary message (with Flik playing the radical visionary part). Both movies also stress the importance of banding together against oppressors whose power turns out to be more apparent than real.
While one could quibble about such commonalities, I'm impressed that two such films exist at all, that they were funded by major Hollywood studios (Disney for "A Bug's Life", Dreamworks for "Chicken Run"), and that kids love them and parents don't mind watching them more than once. One wonders if the parents know exactly what it is they're watching, and letting their kids watch. Then again, maybe they, too, believe they and their children deserve better lives, and enjoy seeing fellow victims of exploitation get such a life in the end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I wasn't very excited about watching ''Chicken Run'' in the beginning.
A friend of mine, Aluísio, told me the story was good and worthwhile,
so, since I have the movie in my house I decided to watch it to see if
it was really nice.It is not my favorite animation, but the movie is
quite good actually!Until I saw the credits running, I would never say
that Mel Gibson was Rocky's voice. And I found the characters very,
very expressive,specially in their facial expressions.
It was funny to see a reference to Braveheart in this movie, since I watched Mel Gibson's performance as William Wallace yesterday. (When Rocky says he's from "The land of the free, the home of the brave", Mac immediately says, "Scotland!" This is a reference to the Mel Gibson-directed film Braveheart)
The plot of the story is simple: The chicken from Tweedy's farm are horrified with the idea of becoming the next meal of the day. Ginger, the leader of all chickens,with the help of Mac, is always trying to scape from the farm with her ideas and plans. One day, she met Rocky, a rooster that apparently can fly and is escaping from his circus ' owner. They make a deal and she agrees to hide him if he helps all of the chickens to escape. Their relationship starts to progress, but the art of flying doesn't. And Mrs Twwedy starts to have more and more strange ideas of what to do with the chickens and make her profits higher...
aka "A Fuga das Galinhas" - Brazil
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