"It's wicked all right! This irresistible stop-motion clay animation parody from
Peter Lord and Nick Park is a total delight, with clay chickens and characters that assume
a life of their own. Doing for chickens what Gary Larson did for cows, Lord and Park have
managed to create a bizarre world of chicken angst in a concentration camp-like setting.
The characters are very real and we become engrossed in their plight, their relationships,
their hopes and dreams. The drama is played for real and superb casting allows the
versatile and distinctive voices of Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha and Miranda Richardson to
bring the chickens and their keepers to life.
The story: the chickens on Mrs Tweedy's farm in the North of England are determined to
escape to greener pastures, with head chick Ginger tired of being cooped up forced to lay
eggs. All escape plans fail until one day cocky Rocky the Flying Rooster crashlands into
the barnyard, giving Ginger new escape hopes. She persuades Rocky to teach the chickens to
fly in return for hiding him. But inside the Tweedy farm, Mrs Tweedy has devised a new
money making plan to sell Chicken Pies instead of eggs.
This is the kind of film that has so much to offer on DVD. Not only do we enjoy the
feature itself under the best possible conditions (in widescreen format with crisp, clear
sound), but we can also become totally involved in the filmmaking process. Engrossing for
both the initiated and novice, here is the perfect opportunity to delve into a magical
world of creative genius.
The two 'making of' documentaries canvas the two years of 'hatching' the project with
interviews with the filmmakers, producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and the entire cast who voiced
these adorable chickens. Mel Gibson confesses that while he never thought he resembled any
kind of chicken, he was drawn to the project by the concept and the amusing material. Lord
recalls that Gibson's classic rogue character from Maverick was exactly what they wanted
Rocky to be – "unreliable, shifty, dishonest but fundamentally good and utterly
charming." We are privy to scenes with a good-natured Gibson falling about in the
studio after attempting to sing 'I'm a wanderer'. Everyone looks as though they were
having a ball! Tony Haygarth, who plays bumbling Mr Tweedy recalls the fun and most
bizarre moments coming from all the cast having to grunt, groan and make startled sounds,
after which all the actors exploded into hysterics. There's plenty of fascinating
information including an insight into the extraordinary process required by stop-motion
animation and what is required to complete one full second on the screen. State of the art
cinematography and production design allowed the filmmakers to shoot as if it were live
But the piece de resistance is the directors' commentary, when Park and Lord with their
English understatement and charm relive the whole filmmaking experience with contagious
enthusiasm. Their main problem, says Park, was they had far too many ideas. Chicken Run is
magical entertainment; it's witty, funny, ridiculous yet wonderfully believable. Check out
the Panic Button on the interactive menus – you'll glimpse an eggcentric bunch of
chickens losing it!"
Published April 12, 2001