Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Movie Review: Chicken Little

Well, my news is now all official but I've decided to save it for my fiftieth post. It's just a little more dramatic that way. So, rather than hearing what I've been dying to tell you all for days, you're going to be treated to my review of Chicken Little. (I wonder how many people have just surfed off with a mental note to check back tomorrow for the news...).

Well, what can I say about this movie? Thankfully my mother never said to me "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all," otherwise this review would be incredibly short. Not unlike the movie itself. The tag line is "The end is near" and how right that is, at only 81 minutes in length, this film does really fly by, which is one of its few redeaming features.

To be fair, I took my two kids, aged two and four, to see this film, and they both really enjoyed it. For the two year old it was mainly a good excuse to eat sweets and sit with mummy for an hour and half, but Zak, who's four, got a lot more out of it. Unfortunately, what he got out of it at one point was bordering on terror.

Hmm...to cut a long story short, Chicken Little tells the town the sky is falling, creating wild panic. His dad doesn't believe him and tells everyone it was just an acorn and Chicken Little never lives it down. A year later everyone is still talking about the incident and they're even making a movie of it. Then it turns out that it wasn't the sky, or an acorn, but a piece of an alien ship. Cue alien invasion and war of the worlds type sceens and a four year old boy quivering with fright next to me. This film is so unbearably cute and schmaltzy that when the genuinely menacing aliens pop up it's like a kick in the face to preschoolers. What's up Disney? You usually get this stuff spot on.

This is, of course, Disney's first attempt at a computer animated film since Pixar struck out on their own. Having seen it, I now understand why the House of Mouse just blew the GDP of a small European country buying them back. Pixar killed Disney's cell animated films, and they simply can't do CG without them.

Zak's favourite part of the film was the baseball part, which feels like it's an entirely seperate movie. Between Chicken Little disappointing his father with the sky is falling incident and his father realising that his son was right all along when aliens invade...we have a whole sequence where Chicken Little joins the school baseball team and wins his father's respect and admiration by scoring the winning home run in the final of some tournament or something (it's really not explained at all). This is such a weird mish-mash of a film, and it really doesn't hold together as a whole.

Probably the worst element in the whole film is Chicken Little's relationship with his father. Chicken Little's father is a bad father. He's terrible. Where the film fails, is that it gives him an opportunity to redeem himself and stand by his son, and he still lets him down. It's only when aliens are actually invading the town that he's forced to accept that his son was right all along. Then Chicken Little turns to him and says "You're never there for me." And he kinda' says, "Gee, I never realised you felt that way" and they hug and make up. It just all feels wrong. And this is exactly the sort of thing that Disney usually get so right. Like the relationship between Lilo and her sister Nani in Lilo & Stitch. Even though, from Lilo's perspective, Nani lets her down, the viewer can always clearly see that Nani loves Lilo and always just wants what's best for her. We never get any feeling other than that Chicken Little's dad wants to save face and avoid his own embarassment. He comes across as selfish, stupid and incompetent. The simple fact is that any father will tell you, if your son says the sky is falling, and the whole town is furious with him, you say, "That's ok son, I believe you, if you say the sky is falling then it must be falling." Why? Because it doesn't matter if the whole town thinks you're an idiot, just so long as your son thinks you're a hero.

Chicken Little is passable entertainment if watched with kids, but with so many great kids films like Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Shrek to name a few, which stand up on their own merits as great entertainment for any age, that's simply not good enough.

Rating: 5/10

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