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Chicken Run

Chicken Run

Chicken Run (2000) Theatrical Cartoon Chicken Run

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>Aardman Animations, Allied Filmmakers, DreamWorks SKG
  • Aardman Animations, Allied Filmmakers, DreamWorks SKG
  • Animated Characters: Rocky Rhodes the Rhode Island Red Rooster, Ginger, Mac, Mr. Tweedy, Babs, Mrs. Tweedy, Nick the Rat, Fetcher the Rat, Bunty, Fowler, Circus Man.
  • Awards: Golden Globe Award Nominee, Best Film (Comedy/Musical), 2001.
  • Originally Released in 2000.
  • Color
  • United Kingdom  United Kingdom

Cartoon Production Information:


Stop-motion animation.

The first full-length feature from England-based Aardman Animations, the Academy Award-winning team behind the popular "Wallace and Gromit."

Guinness World Records says that animators used 2,380 kilograms (5,247 pounds) of plasticine during filming- the most plasticine ever used in a feature film. Plasticine was molded on top of latex skins, which had been placed over the chickens' silicone body shapes.

Director Nick Park's drawing of a chicken digging with a spoon under a wire fence spurred the idea for the film.

A special modeling clay, "the Aardman Mix," was used to create two models for each character. The clay was mixed in a specially adapted chewing gum machine.

Each feather was painted by hand. Computer images were used only for scene design and planning.

Production of Chicken Run took 18 months, with two days (on average) spent to capture four seconds of film.

Chicken Run took in $17,506,000 on its first weekend of release in the U.S. It reportedly netted over $160 million in theaters and on video, DVD and merchandising.

As an inside joke, Rocky Rhodes shouts "Freedom!" when he flies into the chicken coop for the first time. This refers to "Braveheart," starring Mel Gibson, who provided the voice of Rocky.

Stop-motion Animation.

Commentary:


Chicken Run is a clay-animated feature done by the same Britons responsible for the acclaimed "Wallace and Gromit" shorts, and that audience will surely welcome this feature. However, I am not one of those fans, and I fear that a lot of people will be scratching their heads after seeing this movie.

The last person to score a hit with clay animation was Will Vinton, who directed the "California Raisins" commercials as well as an underrated feature, "The Adventures of Mark Twain" (1986). Like all good animation, Vinton's work had unusually bright colors and created an otherworldly universe that was most inviting. Chicken Run, on the other hand, has creatures that, whether human or animal, all look the same- popeyed and slatternly- and the entire feature is very dark-looking, even in scenes depicting broad daylight.

None of this is helped by a rather pedestrian storyline. A brutish ogre named Mrs. Tweedy slavishly runs a chicken farm. The chickens are lined up in formation every morning as though they were in a P.O.W. camp, and if a chicken stops laying eggs, it's the ax for her.

The smartest of the chickens (no great contest here) is a thoughtful creature named Ginger, who is constantly plotting ways to escape from the farm. Ginger is eventually aided in her plotting by Rocky (voiced by Mel Gibson), a refugee rooster who convinces the chickens that he knows how to fly, thus giving hope to the would-be escapees.

A well-done movie would make us care about animals in whom we wouldn't usually have a vested interest. (The most recent example was the delightful Babe [1995].) But other than Ginger, all of the chickens are depicted as just plain stupid- they seem eager to escape, and yet they fall for every one of the humans' ploys to keep them locked up. So there's no compelling reason to have a stake in their outcome.

Most annoying of all is Rocky, the preening rooster- a character which proves that Mel Gibson has become as grating in voice form only as he is in a live-action movie. There was a time when I enjoyed Gibson's humble-old-hunk routine, but he's milked the same persona for so long, he's like the once-charming drunk who always corners you at parties. Rocky would get my first choice to feel the steely edge of Mrs. Tweedy's ax.

I'm sure Chicken Run will find an audience--talking animals always delight kids, and there are enough in-jokes to keep adults amused. (The P.O.W. motif is underlined when Ginger does her plotting from Hut #17. Stalag 17, get it?) But anyone not predisposed to this kind of dry humor will probably be moved to make a KFC run after the movie.

Review By: Steve Bailey



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