Chicken Run Review
Chicken Run is a 2000 Aardman animated film produced by Dreamworks Animation. It is a stop-motion adventure comedy that is easily one of the best films from the company.
It is about a farm of chicken where one of them named Ginger tries to lead them to escape from certain death. It is a rather simplistic plot that is not as simple as in ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie’ but is still very straight-forward. And while that can be said to be a negative thing, it is still entertaining in droves and very charming, but above all the plot is not the focus here but rather the humor and the characters. But the plot itself is very well executed with a fine beginning and excellent ending that wrapped it up wonderfully. It also runs smoothly thanks to terrific editing and directing on display here. But it is always wonderfully entertaining, involving and oh so effervescent and humorous.
Speaking of that humor, it is probably the single aspect that drives Chicken Run the most. It is so simple, but oh so clever and with hilarious results. I like all the lines about chicken life, those were so extremely funny and just their British attitude and behavior along with ingenious slapstick makes it very funny. And the line ‘I saw my whole life flash in front of my eyes. It was so boring’ cracked me up as it is so clever and hilarious. And I like the attention to detail present here, most evident in the Rocky character. His freedom line is a fantastic reference and a brilliant nod to William Wallace, another character played by Mel Gibson in ‘Braveheart‘. But the detail is overwhelming and I love it. All the references to the brain capacity and boring life of chickens are so well done and incredibly smart and funny.
The characters are really well developed and all quite likable. Ginger is a good protagonist, a typical good-natured hero but it works well to distinguish her from the rest of the more idiotic bird characters. Rocky is great as the only American character and his storyline may seem familiar, but is done rather professionally and the romance between the two is cute. Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy are terrific as the villains. He is very charming as this nervous and somewhat stupid man that gets irritated by the chickens. And she may be over-the-top, but still done to great effect as she has great screen presence and she posed real threat to our protagonists. I wasn’t such a big fan of Nick and Fetcher as they were the typical other animals usually present in these films, but Babs is hilarious with her knitting and Fowler is a standout when humor is concerned. His anger towards Rocky and everything American is so hilarious and wonderfully amusing bringing a lot of pathos to the film.
All those characters are extremely well acted. Julia Sawalha is excellent in the lead role and Mel Gibson is good as well. But Miranda Richardson is excellent as the villain, Timothy Spall is also good, but the actors who did Babs and especially Fowler are the standouts in my book. All of the performances are superb bringing a lot of professionalism and British nature to this film.
The animation is exquisite, but I had some problems with it. One problem to be exact and that is that it is too dark which is due to not properly done cinematography. But it is regardless of that a really well animated film with especially great character design that is perfectly suitable for these animals as it is simplistic and goofy. The clothes are well done, the backgrounds as well and the nature in the third act is also wonderful to look at. It is a very well animated work for which Aardman is famous for.
The directing from Peter Lord and Nick Park is splendid as is the pacing with never a dull or rushed scene, it all flows magnificently. The imagery is also great and the attention to detail exhibited both in humor and in animation is evident. The humor is great and the highlight, but Chicken Run also has a heart and a brain as it is so sophisticated in my opinion. Its ingenuity is present throughout the whole running time. The chicken’s realization of Rocky’s ‘flying abilities’ for instance is a testament to a sophisticated screenplay in which the scene and plot is shown rather than told. The acting is superb and the tone is well handled. I really liked the score here as well as it has some memorable pieces. The sound effects are also excellent. The dialogue is absolutely magnificent with a lot of hilarious and smart lines. It is predictable, but it is nonetheless enthralling from start to finish but always charming and filled with a lot of fun and detail.
When comparing it to other Aardman films, it is in my opinion their best after their amazing 2015 outing. And as for Dreamworks, it is naturally on the top of the list and the very best of their early movies along with ‘The Prince of Egypt‘. People usually don’t talk about this film which is strange as it is one of the best of the company and one of the best stop-motion films of all time, there is no doubt about it. And I am certain that if the category of Best Animated Feature Film had existed in the year of 2000, Chicken Run would have got it without any real competition because the year is so weak when animated films are concerned. It really is a blast to watch.
Now, for its flaws. The script is too simplistic as usually Aardman films are, but it’s saved for its sophistication in execution. The humor is not present in the second half as much as in its first which is a shame. And some character and plot points are very predictable and familiar. But those are minor flaws in an otherwise excellent film.
Chicken Run has deft animation with a lot of detail, excellent characters with some being hilarious and the humor is top-notch, so clever and funny. The voice acting is also terrific and the movie is always charming and involving. It has some familiar parts and is too simplistic, but it is also very sophisticated in its execution with just phenomenal humor and great attention to detail. It is one of the very best Aardman films for sure.
My Rating – 4.5