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Within the Tweedys’ chicken farm,
The chickens aren’t content to scrape.
They know they’ll only come to harm,
And so they always plan escape.
When all their tactics go awry,
Their leader Ginger gets the blame.
She never hesitates to try,
But all her schemes end up the same.
The failure’s hard on everyone,
Until a rooster falls with style
Into the Tweedys’ chicken run
And brings to Ginger’s face a smile.
This Yankee rooster Rocky Rhodes,
Although his wing is rather bruised,
Becomes their proof that other modes
Of getting out can still be used.
Though Rocky’s cocky (and it shows),
The chicks are awed that he can fly.
He says he’ll teach them all he knows,
If Ginger hides him, so they try.
The circus rooster guides them through
Some odd and silly exercise.
Days later, none seem closer to
Their plan of taking to the skies.
Although the hens had always been
Producing eggs the Tweedys sold,
Their owners’ profits have grown thin,
And selling eggs has gotten old.
So Mrs. Tweedy sees an ad
And buys a giant loud machine.
Since loud machines are always bad,
The chicks don’t know what it may mean.
The Tweedys’ plan is chicken pies,
And they choose Ginger on a whim!
But Rocky saves her, or he tries,
And Ginger ends up saving him.
They sabotage the pie machine
And buy themselves some time to fly.
They practice harder, still unseen,
Since no one wants to be a pie.
But Rocky knows the truth of it
And leaves the chicken run that night.
When he departs, he does admit
A cannon helped him with his “flight.”
At first, the chickens feud and cry,
But Ginger has one last idea.
They build a plane to help them fly,
Their much-awaited panacea.
Once the Tweedys have repaired
Their tool, they try to stop their hens.
But Rocky comes back undeclared
And helps to save his threatened friends.
So Mrs. Tweedy’s caught inside
A giant gravy mushroom cloud,
While all the chickens now reside
In open spaces, free and proud.

Unlike many of the poorly received animated films on my list recently, Chicken Run was quite a success and is currently the highest grossing stop-motion feature. Fusing parodies of old POW movies like The Great Escape with an untold number of chicken-related puns, the film creates a surprisingly fresh and funny take on material that could have devolved into unentertaining silliness. Chicken Run stars Mel Gibson (before his descent from popularity) along with a host of less familiar British actors who, along with the skilled puppeteers, create unique and lovable characters out of clay figurines. I also love the score by the great Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell, which is more instantly recognizable than memorable.

While the animation is seamless, it’s a tad distracting in its unrealism. Unlike real chickens, more “meat” is put into the animated chickens’ thighs rather than their breasts (for obvious reasons, considering it’s a family film), and my VC doesn’t care for Aardman Animations’ habit of giving the characters large mouths that stick out on either side. Despite this, with a hilarious script and some instantly classic scenes, such as the trip through the pie machine, Chicken Run is my favorite stop-motion film, outdoing other works like Wallace and Gromit and The Pirates: Band of Misfits, which are good and entertaining but can’t rival the imaginative genius of this film.

Best line: [the plane is being dragged down by Mrs. Tweedy] (Ginger) “Great Scott, what was that?” (the Scottish hen Mac, after a string of Star Trek references) “A cling-on, Cap’n, and the engines can’t take it.”
VC’s best lines (she can’t make up her mind): (Ginger) “Listen. We’ll either die free chickens or we die trying.”  (Babs) “Are those the only choices?”
(Bunty, the negative hen) “Oh, face the facts, ducks. The chances of us getting out of here are a million to one.”  (Ginger) “Then there’s still a chance.” 


Artistry: 4
Characters/Actors: 6
Entertainment: 7
Visual Effects: 7
Originality: 5
Watchability: 6
Other (aforementioned look of the animation): -5
TOTAL: 30 out of 60

Tomorrow: #315: American Graffiti

© 2014 S. G. Liput