Reviewed by: Misty Wagner
|Featuring||Zach Braff, Garry Marshall, Joan Cusack, Steve Zahn, Don Knotts|
|Producer||Randall Fullmer, Paul D. Lanum|
|Distributor||Walt Disney Pictures|
The end is near. This time the sky really is falling.
The majority of the press ads and trailers put out for “Chicken Little” seemed to imply that this was a “big movie about a little chicken,” and though I left the theatre charmed by Disney and an incredibly well-made film, I couldn’t help but feel as if it were more like a really big movie marketed for little children, but more accurately made for the tween to near-tween-aged audience.
The story begins with Chicken Little (voiced by Zach Braff) frantically trying to alert the town that the sky is falling. Most of us know that part of the story; it seems to turn out to be an acorn and poor Chicken Little develops a bit of a reputation for not telling the truth. Well, in this modern version of the classic tale, he becomes labeled as the “crazy chicken,” and becomes the victim of many jokes. The story is such a big deal, in fact, that it not only ruins his reputation but has tarnished his father’s (who used to be the town baseball hero) and been picked by Hollywood to make a major motion picture entitled “crazy little chicken.”
Chicken Little’s life is in such a bleak state that even on the sidewalks while passing by, mothers will discourage their children from making eye contact with the “crazy little chicken,” and as far as high school is concerned, he is a complete social outcast, falling into the “unpopular” peer group with the Ugly Duckling (Abby), Runt of the Litter and Fish out of Water.
The above quote is Chicken Little’s motto, and it seems that everything he does isn’t motivated at all by the way his peers or community look down at him, but more so at the fact that his father has joined them in being ashamed by them. This is made very evident in a scene near the beginning of the film where his father is practically encouraging him to “disappear.” (And this is a year after the acorn incident.)
Although the previews led us to believe that the movie was about the sky falling/alien invasion (which really is a small part), the predominant theme is the relationship between Chicken Little and his father. Abby (voiced by Joan Cusack) spends many of her verbal scenes referencing magazines like Modern Mallard and other Cosmo-like magazines, in encouraging Chicken Little to seek closure and healing with his single father. The film implies that the mother has passed away.
Though bubbly in animation-style and quite enticing to young children, this movie really is more appropriate for older children. The alien invasion sequences are a little frightening, mostly because they are loud and the aliens seem villainous [SPOILER FOR PARENTS who want to know more about the aliens: Near the end, the film reveals that the aliens are nothing more then tourists stopping through, and all is well].
HIGH POINTS: This film has a great soundtrack which parents of all ages will be able to identify with. Children who like music will be thrilled because there is a lot of it—fun/danceable tracks plus dramatic sequence music. Runt (voiced by Steve Zahn) is continually quoting disco songs and has a confessed obsession with Barbara Streisand music.
The dialogue that Chicken Little has with his friends in regards to his relationship with his father are quite powerful for a children’s movie, and though I do feel it’s a little heavy for very young children, I see it as a great tool for parents to use while opening up discussion with their kids.
There is a lot of focus on redemption among friends and family, loyalty to your friends and not letting the “cool kids” (Foxy Loxy and Goosy Loosy) bring you down.
There is a very touching scene in which Chicken Little and his father resolve their differences, and this seems to lead to Chicken Little to admit that he has always had an attraction to Abby (the ugly duckling).
LOW POINTS: Near the beginning, in a karaoke scene with Runt and Abby, they sing a once popular Spice Girls song which includes the chorus sings “if you wanna be my lover.,” and though I possibly wouldn’t have thought much about it, there were parents sitting behind me who were upset by this and felt it was quite inappropriate.
The afore-mentioned “cool kids” can be quite mean. Many of the things they say are cruel (although no worse then kids hear at school), and there is a gym class scene where the class plays dodge ball and the coach teams them up “popular kids against unpopular kids.”
Also, near the beginning, Chicken Little loses his pants on the way to school and is embarrassed to be running around in his briefs. It’s pretty innocent, but is something that I imagine many being sensitive to.
There is a dialogue between Chicken Little and his friends about urine/pee. It tends to go on a bit, and although the kids in the theatre found it hilarious, I couldn’t help but wonder if there wasn’t a better topic these kids could be laughing at.
When Chicken Little admits to Abby that he finds her attractive, they kiss and then she becomes a little “twitterpated.” Near the end of the film they are seen holding “hands.”
When the aliens appear to be attacking Earth, there are a few times when lasers are “shot” at characters/items, and they seem to vanish. Later we find out they weren’t so much destroyed, as they were just taken to a type of holding cell.
Disney made a beautiful and truly spectacular film. The animation is wonderful, and the script is very clever and tight. Though this is not a light-hearted cartoon, if Disney’s intent was to take prominent issues that our kids today face (i.e., insecurity, rejection, lack of parental involvement and support, loss of a parent, etc.) and package it in a film appropriate for most ages, then they have done an amazing job.
The bottom line: This is a funny, clever, enjoyable and yet surprisingly deep family film. If you feel that your children can handle the apparent violence (which does resolve itself pretty quickly), then I recommend this film. Chicken Little’s perspective on fresh starts, friendships and acceptance is nothing short of admirable, and this little chicken is a great choice for being a big hero.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.