Wednesday, November 09, 2005

CHICKEN LITTLE: Disney's Chick Flick for Kids

Time: 80 mins
Rating: * * *

Chicken Little
HE may not realise it but this little cluck, who panicked the whole town by crying “The sky’s falling, the sky is falling”, has become Disney’s pioneer of sorts. With Chicken Little, Walt Disney Pictures is giving Pixar a run for the money by making the transition from two-dimensional hand-drawn pictures to 3-D computer-generated imagery.

And with this debut ‘chick flick’, Disney is hoping to play catch-up — or even out-perform — Pixar’s hits like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. For the past few months, Disney had been using the cute little chicken in trailers to lure the children to their new and improved format.

The verdict: Young children will definitely like Chicken Little as they can relate to its theme on father-child relationship. However, for the older kids who have had a taste of Shrek, this one may just be another ‘kiddie outing’.

The tale is rather simplistic. Chicken Little (voice of Zach Braff of TV’s Scrubs) is trying to live down the infamy after causing the mayhem in Oakey Oaks with that ‘acorn incident’. He is being ostracised at school, and his three buddies — Abby ‘Ugly Duckling’ Mallard (Joan Cusack), Runt of the Litter (Steve Zahn) and Fish Out of Water (Dan Molina) — are also considered losers.

On the domestic front, Chicken Little is also trying to prove himself to his widowed father, Buck Cluck (Garry Marshall), a former baseball hero in town. He is not doing a good job of it until he manages to turn the tide in a little league game. Then one day, a piece of the sky really falls on the little chicken. It is part of an invisible spaceship that is hovering above the town.

Chicken Little believes the town is coming under alien attack — but will the townsfolk believe him this time around? This War Of The Worlds parody, which takes up the second half of the movie, appears rather cliched. It gives the feeling that the scripters have hit a wall in planning what to do with the story.

The alien attack theme is just one of the many pop culture references that pop up in the movie. Director Mark Dindal also throws in familiar pop songs (from the 70s to contemporary) to liven things up. It has been a tradition at Disney’s to portray single parent families in its movies and this one is no different. However, this may be the first Disney effort that is heading into the ‘gay area’ in its portrayal of Runt’s character: He is effeminate, grooves to old songs and idolises Barbra Streisand.

The celebrity voice cast, which include ‘cameos’ by Don Knotts, Patrick Stewart, Patrick Warburton and Adam West, do a good job of adding colour to their roles. As family entertainment goes, Chicken Little should keep the kids occupied. But it is nowhere close to the thrills we got from The Incredibles.


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