Chicken Little

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner

Moral Rating: Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Kids Family
Genre: Animation Action Adventure Comedy
Length: 1 hr. 21 min.
Year of Release: 2005
USA Release: November 4, 2005
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Featuring Zach Braff, Garry Marshall, Joan Cusack, Steve Zahn, Don Knotts
Director Mark Dindal
Producer Randall Fullmer, Paul D. Lanum

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.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—This is a funny, clever, enjoyable, family film. Chicken Little’s perspective on fresh starts, friendships and acceptance is admirable. Our family enjoyed this film very much. It is one of the few films we would very much like to see again. Very good family film. Lots of laugh out loud moments. Very funny. It is all you would hope a G-rated movie would be.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
Russell M, age 52
Positive—This movie was awesome. It wasn’t as good as “The Incredibles” but it’s pretty good. There were a lot of funny moments in this movie. The scene where Chicken Little loses his pants and ends up tiptoeing around school was actually quite hilarious. However, when the popular kids picked on the less-popular ones, I could relate, because I was picked on in jr. high on a frequent basis (though no one actuallly threw stuff at me). Cute movie, though. The voice talents of Zach Braff and Joan Cusack are awesome!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
Shannon H., age 24
Positive—A really enjoyable movie for our family (parents in mid-40s, daughters preteens). There are many themes/ideas that parents can discuss after the movie. Cool kids v. the losers—or as we discussed “the underdogs holding their own.” In the dodge ball scene, the losers actually did well, held their own and in some way triumphed. Friendship in the midst of doubt is a thread, too. When Chicken Little was ridiculed by the city, Runt and Abby stuck with him. My wife and I laughed out loud at many of Runt’s music references, comments that went over our kid’s heads. While it’s hard to describe, I liked the look and feel of the movie. THE INCREDIBLES was great, and it had a hard-edged, angular, sharp look to it. CHICKEN LITTLE had a softer, rounded feel.

Too many children, like Chicken Little, try to please their parents through things they do, thinking success will make Mom and Dad proud of them. But, like Chicken Little’s father told Chicken Little, he loved him for who he was, not what he did. You cannot find a more Biblical theme than that—Christ loves us for who we are, not what we do to try and earn His love.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
Jeff Mc, age 46
Neutral—I took a group of children to this movie, and it took about a good half hour into it before I felt okay about it. I thought so many of the characters were mean (the kids at school) and the fact that the teacher even referred to the character Abby as being “ugly” made me feel like this movie took you into reality, when you really want to run away from the meanness found in the real world, especially when you are a kid. There is a sad ballad toward the beginning, and some of the kids I was with, related to the situation so it made them tear and I felt bad about it. And the pig character was made just outright enormous; I really felt odd to watch him. I wasn’t sure if they were poking fun at large people—or why they had to make him so much bigger than life. Chicken Little though, had to be the cutest most loveable character on film—you really did want to reach out and hug him. (Can’t believe he’s not real!) …it does end well so you might overlook it. I’m just wanting to warn those that may have sensitive kids, especially if they are the target of the real world.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
Pamela, age 39
Neutral—This was a funny movie. I laughed out loud at least four times, and only fell asleep once (for about 10 minutes). My children (ages 7 and 5) seemed to enjoy it a lot, although I don’t think it will be considered as memorable as other Disney fare. It certainly won’t be as lasting as Toy Story, Monster’s Inc, Madagascar, etc.

For some reason, even the people making rated G movies these days feel the need to slip in sexual content. Why? Well, I believe it is to slowly bring us down that slippery slope. Sexual things that bothered us about this movie:

1. Two of the characters dance and sing to the song “If you want to be my lover” by the Spice Girls. Why on Earth they would choose this song over all others is beyond me.

2. Towards the end of the movie two characters “moan” each others name in a suggestive manner mulitple times. Again, why they needed to do this is beyong me.

Overall, the movie isn’t bad, it just isn’t memorable. You and your children will laugh. Its up to you if the above things are too much for you to truly enjoy this movie.
My Ratings: Average / 3½
Shame, age 35
Negative—We took our 8 and 6 ½ year old to see this movie. The animation was great. Most of the music was fun as well. My children found the movie very funny. However, as a parent I was completely taken back by the typical “Disney” theme of painting all men (Dads) as stupid and clueless. My husband has been saying for years how Disney always shows the male figures as clueless and teaching our children not to expect more from men. I have to say I do agree with him. Also the Spice girl song was completely out of place and not age appropriate. The I had no idea that the movie had so much emphisis on Aliens. We never would have gone!
My Ratings: Average / 5
Suzanne, age 36
Neutral—Disney really needs to repair their relationship with Pixar. …It was no “Finding Nemo,” “Toy Story,” “Monsters Inc” etc. I sure hope Disney realizes it needs Pixar. …Not that the movie was bad—it was just OK, but I expected more and only rate it “offensive” due to the fact it was rated-G which to my mind means it should have nothing questionalble. Animation was good, but the movie had very little heart, and the humor was for the most part weak.

I took my 5 year old daughter and 2 year old son. Several scenes were too intense and frightening for my daughter (alien invasion, alien chases, aliens shooting, etc.). I also think Disney should have chosen a different song other than “If you wanna be my lover” for the scene with the singing pig and duck. I felt this was not proper for a “children’s” film rated-G.
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
Brad, age 34
Positive—I took my 7 year old son to this movie, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so refreshing to see a beautifully done animated film by Disney with a good moral message (and no “new age” stuff). There was no bad language, no sexual innuendo, and it kept both of our interest from start to finish. It was a good blend of humor, reality issues, and adventure all in one. As far as the “questionable song” early on, I really didn’t even catch the words to it, and my son certainly didn’t. It was simply a catchy tune. I highly recommend this movie for all ages. It’s just good clean fun, and a great family outing with a wonderful wholesome message.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
LS, age 43
Comments from young people
Positive—I think that “Chicken Little” was the best movie they ever played in the theaters this year. …
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Nick Thompson, age 13
Positive—I loved the movie. I took my baby cousin who’s actually 4 to see it. She had a blast and was laughing the whole time, which made it great for her to see. I actually enjoyed it too. The storyline got to my heart, and I felt bad for CL (Chicken Little). I give congrats to Disney!!!
My Ratings: Good / 4
Cassie K, age 15
Neutral—It was pretty funny and a little weird, but I still liked it. It was funny when fish-out-of-water was messing around with a piece that fell from the sky, and it changed into whatever he put it in front of. I recommend it for other kids to watch.
My Ratings: Good / 4
Ryan Cannon, age 10
Positive—…The only thing I found objectionable was the “attraction” between Chicken Little and Abby. I found this especially innapropriate as this film was marketed towards younger children. Also, the aliens may be a bit scary for children under 10. Overall, I found it clean and entertaining.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
Catherine, age 15
Positive—I thought the movie was really cute and funny. I thought it was going to be dumb, but I was proven wrong. My little bro who is 10 was laughing constantly and I had to cover his mouth to keep him quiet. It was a very good movie and most of the time was laughing myself. My parents were even laughing hard. It had nothing bad, no bad words, it was perfect! Though some people found it stupid, it was a cute kids’ movie. They should have movies like this out more often. I suggest families take their kids to this movie. …I saw a lot of teens in the theater.
My Ratings: Good / 5
Sarah Jacobson, age 14
Positive—…a highly recomended movie for ages 7 to 100+! This I want to see again. (If my parents will take me!) This movie was not offensive in any way from my point of view. However, they focused a lot on the aliens, which the Bible never says God created aliens.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
Cody B., age 10
Positive—I was really excited to see “Chicken Little,” and I was not disappointed! I liked it so much I viewed it twice! I found nothing offensive at all! It was a fun, light-hearted film. A very cute movie. I definitely recommend this film!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Elizabeth, age 11
Positive—…a great movie. It was very educational. It had a good moral, and I laughed a lot. My brothers and sister loved it also. My sister thought it would be boring, but she laughed harder than all of us. I recommend it for people of all ages.
My Ratings: Good / 5
Nathan, age 12
Positive—I loved this movie! I could watch it again, and again, and again, and… It was a cute, fun-loving, family film. I was surprised to see quite a few teenagers in the theater. A few teen guys and their girlfriends sat in front of us, and I was even more surprised to see them jump at the first alien scene. …My family really appreciated all of the music, and we all laughed in hysteria at the “We Are The Champions” remix. Not all families will like the music, but for people who enjoy all kinds of music, you’ll love it. I know I did! It was soooooo cute, and I really didn’t see anything objectionable. I almost cried during the scenes where Chicken Little and his father were, uh, what’s that word…? I suppose you could call it arguing? I know just how Chicken Little felt. It was really touching to me to see the message come across as parents needing to pay more attention to their children, especially at this age, even if they have nothing to say. It was really well made, and I would recommend it to anyone in a flash! It may scare children under the age of five, though. (maybe older, but you never know with kids these days!)
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
Kitty, age 13
Movie Critics
…family-friendly content and positive messages…
Preview Family Movie and TV Review, Suzanne Keffer
…a perfectly acceptable feature cartoon for kids up to a certain age, but it doesn’t have the universal appeal of some of the best recent animation…
Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert
…heavy themes weigh down light-hearted “Chicken Little”… While marketed as ‘full of laughs,’ “Chicken Little” delivers only a handful…
Crosswalk, Lisa Rice
…another in a new breed of mass-market comedy that substitutes self-reference for original wit and pop songs for emotional content…
Entertainment Weekly, Lisa Schwarzbaum
…an enjoyable family comedy with a reassuring moral…
Detroit Free Press, Terry Lawson