When Chicken Little (voice of Zach Braff) is hit on the head by an unidentified object and claims the sky is falling, he becomes the laughing-stock of his home town, Oakley Oaks. A year later, determined to redeem himself, he joins the high school baseball team, hits a home run in a crucial game and becomes a hero. But then he's hit on the head once again - and reluctantly sets out to investigate what may be a real threat to the town.
Review by Jake Wilson:
Readers will recall the traditional version of Chicken Little, a timeless anti-scaremongering fable in which - spoiler alert - a mass panic fomented by the hero leads Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and the gang straight into the jaws of Foxy Loxy, their pretended saviour. Needless to say, this is not the story the Disney corporation wants to tell. So this new Chicken Little is a hero, of sorts: a feisty little nerd in green hipster specs, who bounces off walls and babbles like Woody Allen. More spoilers: this time around the sky really is falling, though the climactic flying saucer invasion proves more benign than most. In fact not much is really new in this "edgy" spin on an old tale, aside from the digital animation, a first for a Disney feature. The cosy small town threatened by alien invaders suggests a received idea of the 1950s; the disco standards on the soundtrack make claims on a later generation's nostalgia; the attitudes are straight from last year's teen movies (strangely, Mean Girls seems to be a direct source). The verbal jokes are relentlessly knowing - these are talking animals who read self-help books and sing karaoke - but less funny than the more traditional visual gags; best of all are the winningly designed minor characters such as Turkey Lurkey, the idiot mayor whose head bobs like a golf ball in a stocking as he reads off cue cards. It's all good fun, but something is missing, and not just because Chicken Little's emotional "journey" is a dead loss (he finally wins the trust of his overbearing father - big deal). The intrinsic violence of the source material, the collision of decades and genres, the Little Golden Book landscape brought close to apocalypse - all this ought to feel mildly disturbing, even provocative, as it would in a movie by Joe Dante or Tim Burton. Yet the filmmakers seem cheerfully unconscious of any weirdness, as if they lacked a vision of their own, and were content to recycle old materials without worrying too much about their meanings. If a moral exists, it's a decidedly equivocal one: be alert but not alarmed. Turkey Lurkey would approve.
Email this article
CHICKEN LITTLE (PG)
VOICES: Zach Braff, Garry Marshall, Don Knotts, Patrick Stewart, Amy Sedaris, Steve Zahn, Joan Cusack, Dan Molina, Wallace Shawn, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara,Patrick Warburton, Adam West
PRODUCER: Randy Fullmer
DIRECTOR: Mark Dindal
SCRIPT: Steve Bencich, Ron J. Friedman
EDITOR: Don Molina
MUSIC: John Debney
PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Womersley
RUNNING TIME: 81 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 1, 2005
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.