Retro Review: Chicken Little

We have all heard the story of the chicken who claimed the sky was falling. We all know it was a hoax and this little gem of a tale is to teach kids not to lie or exaggerate. But what if, the chicken did in fact tell the truth?

In Chicken Little, the new computer-animated film from Disney, a young nerdy Chicken Little (voiced by Zach Braff) rings the town bell when a piece of the sky bonks him on the head. The town goes into extreme panic and when nothing happens Chicken Little is pronounced a fraud much to the disappointment of his dad (Garry Marshall).

It takes time for the timid young chicken to gain back the respect and help his relationship with his dad. But just as everything begins to clear up, Chicken Little is once again faced with another piece of the sky and this time it’s linked to an alien invasion that could wipe out everyone in town. What is a chicken to do?

Disney’s Chicken Little is the first computer-animated film the studio has produced since they split with giant Pixar. Disney decided to create their own computer-animated division and pick up directly where Pixar left off. (They are even in the process of producing sequels to Pixar films without Pixar’s input) Chicken Little is the first of that experiment. Can a lone little chicken save Disney’s struggling animation division?

Don’t forget that this isn’t the first time that Disney has released a computer animated film without Pixar, 2000’s “Dinosaur” was a huge hit and gobbled up a lot of the business that year.

As a film, Chicken Little felt to me like it was a melting pot of every “alien invasion film” and “outer space cartoon” I have seen in recent memory. There are the obvious scenes playing homage to “War of the Worlds”, “Close Encounters” and “E.T.” but I found myself more comparing the film as a whole to other animated films like “Jimmy Neutron” and “Jetsons: The Movie”. The more direct comparisons I found to those films, the more I got annoyed.

Chicken Little isn’t anything that special and it probably belongs in the second-tier of computer-animated films like “Madagascar”, “Shrek 2”, “Bug’s Life” and “Robots” but fear not it isn’t as atrocious as “Valiant” which is probably still the worst computer-animated film to date.

I really liked the character designs and the animation but felt that the story was just so basic and not involving. Some of the kids, we watched the film with, were even a little bored which isn’t good in a film that lasts barely 70+ minutes.

When you get a theatre full of kids I am sure they will like the film but I am not sure that adults are going to have as much fun as they did with “The Incredibles”, “Finding Nemo” and “Shrek”.

Chicken Little is proof that you need strong writing not just strong animation. Which uncannily is exactly the same thing that was wrong with 2000’s “Dinosaur”.

(3 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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