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Disney animators hatch a new twist on story of Chicken Little
By Mark Moorehead

November 5, 2005

Prognosticators often pay a heavy price when attempting to count their chickens before they hatch. Chicken Little certainly paid one when he cried, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Well, the sky didn’t fall, if you recall the fable. Instead, Chicken Little became the laughing stock of the town, and nobody believed a word he said afterwards.

Disney decided it had to be the chicken before the egg, and catapulted the endearing story of Chicken Little to the big screen.

If you decide to see Disney’s latest offering, I highly recommend seeing it in 3-D since most animated films are essentially a visual experience. Besides, wearing 3-D glasses and watching things pop out of the screen into your face is a totally cool experience for kids.

Chicken Little the movie is not a simply a rehash of a familiar yarn. Director Mark Dindal (The Emperor’s New Grove) made the heart of the film the relationship between the diminutive and bespectacled Chicken Little (Zach Braff) and his larger-than-life dad (Garry Marshall).

Chicken Little’s papa loses faith in his only son after the dire warning of impending doom proves false. To regain his pride and redeem himself in his father's eyes, little Chicken Little joins the town's baseball team and scores the wining run in an upset victory. Suddenly, all is forgiven and Chicken Little is the hero in the town of Oakley Oaks.

Then, bam! A chunk of alien debris falls on Chicken Little’s head. An alien ship resembling a giant egg is hurtling toward earth about to destroy our fine-feathered friends.

But Little dares not raise the alarm, knowing no one would believe him if he did. Instead, he enlists the support of his three outcast friends, Runt of the Litter (Steve Zahn), an overweight pig who loves Barbara Steisand’s music; ugly duckling Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack); and Fish Out Of Water (Dan Molina). Fish Out Of Water wears a humorous diving helmet filled with water, which explains the gurgling noises he makes when he talks.

Chicken Little’s plan succeeds when the alien mothership begins dispensing the same type of machines seen recently in War of The Worlds, starring Tom Cruise. Fortunately, we’re spared seeing scorched-earth scenes of burning feathers and chicken bones.

As the mayhem unfolds an overabundance of songs from ‘70s and pop culture references punctuate the film. The Bee Gees’ song Stayin’ Alive and the theme song to Raiders of the Lost Ark immediately come to mind.

Although the musical score and the storyline may be weak, there are a few sight gags involving a lemming-like walk to the sea and crop circles that made me laugh.

Standout characters are needed for any animated film to succeed. Don Knotts’ character, the mayor of Oakley Oaks, is one of those. It’s his job to rally the townsfolk to confront the scary invaders, reminding viewers of his prior roles as assistant deputy Barney Fife in The Andy Griffith Show and the frightened reporter in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. It’s amazing how old characters come back to roost.

However, in the end, it’s the little chicken with the big head that saves the day, and he is the character kids will remember.


Mark's Movie Meter

General Audiences: B-

Brisk-paced, 100 percent computer-animated film by Disney combines the “sky is falling” children’s classic with War of the Worlds. If you liked music from the disco era or remember Don Knotts, you’ll enjoy taking the kids to this show, too.

Family Audiences: B
Wholesome family entertainment for children ages 4 to 10. Delivers a steady stream of sight gags guaranteed to keep the kids from flying the coup. Showing in select theaters in 3-D. Rated G.




















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