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Overall Rating

Awesome: 1.47%
Worth A Look: 17.65%
Average: 30.88%
Pretty Bad38.24%
Total Crap: 11.76%

7 reviews, 26 user ratings

Chicken Little
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by brianorndorf

"Good heavens, 'Shrek' ruined everything"
2 stars

The Walt Disney Corporation has decided to announce their new, hotly anticipated presence on the CG animated market with “Chicken Little?” This mediocre film, stuffed with annoying, tired “Shrekish” comedy and an ADD-like pace, is a far cry from the flawed, but careful work the studio was creating with Pixar. If this is Disney’s example of independence, the future looks bleak.

A tiny bird in a big world, Chicken Little (voiced by Zach Braff, “Garden State”) can’t seem to live down the day he sent his town into hysterics when he claimed the sky was falling, only to lack proof when he needed it. Surrounded by his devoted father Buck Cluck (Garry Marshall), and friends Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack) and Runt of the Litter (Steve Zahn), Little seeks to win back his dignity through various sporting endeavors; however, once Little comes into contact with another piece of the “sky,” he finds himself smack dab in the middle of an alien invasion, with nobody around willing to believe him.

With “Chicken Little,” the Walt Disney Corporation has to prove itself in a big way. Having burned the Pixar bridge, and facing stiff competition from Dreamworks (“Shrek,” “Madagascar”), “Little” is the studio’s first full-length computer animated production made without any outside resources. With the pressure on, Disney has played the game in a very appropriate way: they’ve put all their eggs into one basket.

“Chicken Little” is the cinematic equivalent of a person stricken with multiple-personality disorder. The picture is all over the place in story and tone and it has massive amounts of trouble focusing, like a hyperactive kid who found mom’s candy stash. Most of this aesthetic can be attributed to director Mark Dindal, who pulled the same zany makeover on another troubled Disney production, “The Emperor’s New Groove.” Dindal loves the snappy pace of the average Bugs Bunny cartoon, and he brings that same liveliness to “Little.” The zip is beneficial to the film in terms of sheer speed and swiftness. Running under 80 minutes, “Little” is thankfully over in a hurry.

While, in the long run, the bubbly atmosphere is diverting, the sheer weight of exhausted gags and irreverence dismantles any chance for a skillfully introduced story; one minute Chicken Little wants to impress his dad with baseball skills, the next there’s an alien invasion swarming the town. The disorganized storytelling leaves the picture a vacant experience, lacking the critical emotional or comedic weight most big screen features deserve. In place of innovation, Dindal uses the dreary conventions of the modern family film genre as a crutch, depending on the formula to guide “Little” to box office gold.

“Little” wants badly to be that “Shrek” style of a hit, in which the constant winking, self-congratulatory jokes mixed with a pedestrian heart heats to an undeserved audience-pleasing boil. However, “Little” pushes this material too far, piling on endless sight gags and musical montages (sometimes, quite lazily, one right after the other) in an effort to blind the audience into thinking they’re having a riotous good time. I’m not denying that “Little” is colorful and energetic, but at what cost? We never fully meet the characters beyond their one defining trait, and the hipster quotient of the humor robs the film of sustaining magic. There’s nothing in “Little” that kids couldn’t get out of the average Saturday morning cartoon, which is bothersome since the film is supposed to announce Disney’s aspirations for the CG market.

As with many animated films, the voicework saves the day. Delivering a charming, panicky performance, Zach Braff colors the feathers of Little in warm and welcoming ways. A gentle, diminutive character surrounded by skeptics, Braff finds a squeaky voice riddled with reservation to be the key that brings Little to life. Braff also gets a chance to hilariously murder “We Are The Champions” too, in one of the few inspired bits of comedy in the film. I was also taken aback by Garry Marshall’s work as Little’s father. Normally, Marshall runs through the creaky shtick that he’s patented over the years with little effort, yet the wealth of tenderness in his performance here is stunning. Braff and Marshall act well as counterpoints to all the noise in the picture, and I wish the film had more time for them.

Opening with Marshall’s narration that aspires to rip apart animated storytelling conventions, “Little” eventually falls into line, and starts to slavishly follow the same formula as so many films that have come before it. There’s a strong emotional line through the film between Little and his dad, but that soon falls into contrived screenwriting too. Once the aliens arrive, the film dissolves into slapstick chaos, reminding the viewer how much Disney lacks Pixar’s tight control.

“Little” could’ve been a much more successful endeavor if the studio wasn’t so intent on throwing everything into the mix, hell-bent on crafting a hit film no matter the cost. “Chicken Little” is mildly entertaining, but the stink of desperation is all over this production.

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originally posted: 11/04/05 16:32:21
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User Comments

10/06/13 Shane Meh. 3 stars
10/19/11 Magic Even Dreamworks Animation would have been ashamed if they made this movie. 2 stars
5/03/08 Pamela White no plot, kids thought it was stupid 2 stars
6/25/07 nana quite funny 4 stars
6/15/07 Vincent Ebriega It takes more than just animation to make this nonsense any good. 1/5. 1 stars
4/25/07 Tiffany Losco good movie, I love chicken little 4 stars
4/01/07 fools♫gold Don't get your hopes up too much, the "kids" I'm near even said it was so-so. 2 stars
9/02/06 Chad Thomas Cute, especially for the kids! 4 stars
7/21/06 David Cohen They had to pad the film just to get to the parts with more padding 2 stars
6/29/06 George Hey Mark, learn to write a story!!!!! 1 stars
5/05/06 Cuenzie Wunzie 10! Sorry out of 10 or 100? Yeah 10\ 100 . 1 stars
4/22/06 Poopy Woopy Wheres the Fucking story!!!!!! 1 stars
4/15/06 Tabitha bad plot a 9 year old could write a better story 2 stars
4/06/06 Chris P. I liked its storyline and how it kinda took parts from other movies in a way nobody noticed 5 stars
4/02/06 JRE too many plots; was like 3 short movies in one 2 stars
3/29/06 tatum Funny, nowhere near the disaster reported 4 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer Walt Disney will rise from his grave to take revenge for this insult! 1 stars
1/11/06 Tamara D.Leonard Cute movie, the kids loved it. 3 stars
1/01/06 Jasper Poop 1 stars
11/17/05 Rebo Valence Pixar has nothing to fear from this turkey. 2 stars
11/14/05 NPD licken' chit-tle 1 stars
11/11/05 Dan Smith My Grandson Laughed his ass off. 4 stars
11/09/05 ga ga 3 stars
11/04/05 M.F. Chicken Little lays an egg 2 stars
11/04/05 Chicken Little Chicken Little makes a very small Chicken Pie (with extra *barf*) 1 stars
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  04-Nov-2005 (G)
  DVD: 21-Mar-2006

  10-Feb-2006 (U)


Directed by
  Mark Dindal

Written by
  Mark Dindal

  Zach Braff
  Garry Marshall
  Joan Cusack
  Steve Zahn
  Amy Sedaris
  Don Knotts

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