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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 34.3%
Average: 8.14%
Pretty Bad: 3.49%
Total Crap: 2.91%

11 reviews, 106 user ratings

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Chicken Run
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Rob Gonsalves

"Nick Park's charming feature debut."
5 stars

'Chicken Run' is smart, witty, and very British, which would seem to be three strikes against it in our cheese-saturated kiddie culture.

I hope I'm wrong; I hope the audience for Chicken Run extends beyond fans of Nick Park and his peerless Wallace and Gromit shorts, a fan base that in America is big but not Pokémon-sized. I liked Chicken Run more for what it isn't than for what it so charmingly is: it isn't bombastic, it doesn't stoop to gross humor (although gross humor in the right hands is fun, as in the current Me, Myself & Irene), it has no insipid ballads -- in short, it isn't Disney. And, say I, thank God (or Nick Park, or DreamWorks) for that.

You could probably trace Nick Park's influences pretty easily -- the Warner Bros. cartoons, Rube Goldberg (Park never met a machine he didn't like), Gary Larson, the alternately chipper and grumbling style of British comedy -- but Park's gentle wit is all his own. In Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, Park's love for all his characters, good and evil, is literally palpable: These characters have been forged of clay, fussed over, posed, photographed over a period of years. The slight jerkiness of the animation in Chicken Run is reassuring. We're not watching a cold CGI toon, we're watching actual characters occupying actual space. All of this may explain the magic of Park's work: Everyone onscreen feels real, almost human.

The almost-humans in Chicken Run are pitted against two barely-humans: Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy (Tony Haygarth and Miranda Richardson), who operate a chicken farm that resembles a P.O.W. camp. The vicious Mrs. Tweedy, impatient with the paltry profits from eggs, looks into upscaling her enterprise: an elaborately cruel machine that turns chickens into pies. (The machine looks as if it were built from a blueprint of Mrs. Tweedy's brain.) It's up to Ginger (voice of Julia Sawalha), an escape-obsessed hen, and the visiting Rocky the Flying Rooster (voice of Mel Gibson), to lead their people -- uh, flock -- out of bondage.

There are several belly-laughs in Chicken Run, but most of it deals more with character comedy than with sight gags (there's a priceless one involving lawn gnomes, without which, it seems, no modern British farce would be complete). As with the Babe movies, you don't have to suspend your disbelief; the movie suspends it for you so deftly that you can watch a dialogue scene between Ginger and Rocky and respond to it as dialogue, not as a scene between Claymation critters. And the laughs here are as much verbal as visual. There's one terrific line that asks you to imagine a chicken -- a real chicken -- in the cockpit of an RAF jet, and the wording of it is so logical yet so absurd that anyone in Monty Python would have been proud to have written it. Then the movie quickly gets on to the next bit.

Park was adamant that Rocky, the visiting American, not be the one who swoops in to save the day, and Mel Gibson, the inflated star now staring out at us from the Patriot poster, eats some humble pie here and comes out the better for it. He gets to do something he hasn't done in years (not even in Pocahontas, where it could've been anyone's voice) -- he gives a solid supporting performance. The real star is Ginger; she and her coopmates wiggle and bounce, expressing the joy Nick Park takes in their bulbous bodies and rubber faces. (Actually clay faces, but why quibble?)

In Chicken Run, Nick Park survives the transfer from half-hour shorts to feature length; who wouldn't want more of his bug-eyed, inner-tube-mouthed creations? Whether we get more depends on whether Chicken Run does well and justifies the expense of more Park movies. Yet quality and fun don't necessarily guarantee success in this country; The Iron Giant died here despite rave reviews. Here is another intelligent, entertaining all-ages film, the kind of movie you all say you want to see more of. Nick Park has kept his end of the bargain; will you?*

* You did; the movie did very well in theaters. Good job, America. This time you actually backed a movie that deserved it.

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originally posted: 01/28/07 06:48:50
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/27/18 Louise Fabulous fun, with heart & soul, and and very clever. Who could not love this?? 5 stars
9/15/12 roscoe some fun, but i did not like any of the characters or the voice work. 3 stars
10/26/09 Mr.Carrot75 There is nothing wrong with brining the Taleban on the program, but I, too, wonder how fort 5 stars
10/26/09 Arnold61 Anything I choose to do instead of hanging out with my husband and four children better be 2 stars
10/25/09 Loy22 Made me realize that pretty much every generation thinks that when they were kids it was so 3 stars
10/23/09 GanjaBoy99 To answer the following question from Mr. , 3 stars
2/09/07 Soranos It was boring, I would rather watch "The great excape" which is like this, but more "mature 2 stars
2/08/07 Raph Branca A bit boring. 3 stars
1/31/07 chicken love, DONT HATE ME CAUSE I'M DIFFERENT! down with hollywood and all its cgi incarnations, little bitches! 4 stars
1/15/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
9/02/06 Chad Thomas Great, fun movie! 5 stars
5/20/06 Kcaj Yeahhhhhhhh it's getting there 3 stars
3/30/06 nasma distgusting 1 stars
12/21/05 Littlepurch An absolute classic! Loved it all my life. Need I say more?! 5 stars
10/28/05 Daveman Nick Park's worst film but still good for technical artistry. 3 stars
6/02/05 Chris Great!I've lost my taste for pot pies! 2 stars
5/29/05 susee chicks!!! amd more chicks!!! really entertaining 5 stars
3/23/05 clinger26 it's so beautiful 5 stars
1/20/05 Keaton the Black Jackal Clever, original, and has talking chickens. What more can you ask for? 5 stars
8/19/04 Anon this movie has a setting and is a must see for mostlittle kids I thought the moviewas great 5 stars
8/19/04 anonomous this movie was fucked in the head 3 stars
7/25/04 John Thepious Truly outstanding entertainment 5 stars
7/18/04 Nobody Great for kids 4 stars
6/19/04 Denise Duspiva slow 3 stars
6/12/04 Raymond Lee very entertaining movie 5 stars
6/01/04 whatevr This movie makes me want to smack colonel sanders 4 stars
5/18/04 Jen Dreifort loved this adorable movie! gotta love the chickens! 4 stars
5/17/04 DM Made me want more stop-motion animation movies 5 stars
5/15/04 y2mckay The animation is fun, but the story is nowhere near as good as a Wallace & Grommit episode. 3 stars
4/07/04 Alex What can i say i like the farm 5 stars
11/03/03 samantha cool 4 stars
6/03/03 Virgil Anyone for chicken pot pie? This was great! 5 stars
4/01/03 Jack Sommersby Excrutiatingly awful. 1 stars
3/29/03 NYTRANSIT417 Kids Loved It! Would ReccomendA++ 5 stars
2/03/03 name 1 of the best animated movie 5 stars
10/23/02 Charles Tatum Any film that lampoons "The Great Escape" deserves a look 5 stars
10/17/02 P.Rodriguez Anything With chickens gets my full vote!!! 5 stars
7/15/02 ! Really funny story, nice graphics, just enjoyable! 5 stars
7/12/02 ralph Workman I wet the bed and i love chickens OHHH 1 stars
6/06/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi pretty kewl, tho i like wallace and gromit betta 4 stars
6/01/02 Jiz Nick Park's best work to date, very enjoyable. 5 stars
3/11/02 Emilia A warm watch..need some flavour though..hmm how about some gravy? 4 stars
2/23/02 Beyonder A good lesson for walt disney 4 stars
11/14/01 Zizzerzazzerzuzz Nick Park is a certifiable genius! The chickens aren't quite as charismatic as W&G, though. 4 stars
11/01/01 Andrew Carden Makes You Yearn For An Episode Of Spongbob Squarepants. 1 stars
9/05/01 Butterbean Very enjoyable movie! 4 stars
8/30/01 Henry Ginsberg I love how the coops are set out like in a concentration camp. 4 stars
8/23/01 Babybelle Too good for the kids, keep in adult section for quick smile occasions 4 stars
8/14/01 Monday Morning Cluckin'-A, this is funny. 5 stars
7/28/01 Steve Quit comparing to W&G, it was good anyways! Fuck you if you didn't see it and 1-starred it! 4 stars
6/29/01 R.W. Welch Almost up to "The Great Escape" but not quite. 4 stars
4/14/01 I love movies sucked, man! how about making a full length 'Wallace & Gromit' cartoon? 2 stars
4/09/01 Gary Hilarious, cool animation, but really stupid! 4 stars
4/05/01 Hawkeye If you've ever seen The Great Escape, check this out- you'll laugh yourself silly. 5 stars
4/02/01 moviegoer humorous, and meaningful, ever notice how the tweedy's represent the government? 4 stars
2/25/01 The Evil Penguin Nice,but there's no plot. 3 stars
2/01/01 Dan Waldman Best of Y2K. Most grown-up movie of the year 5 stars
1/22/01 Josh Stevens the movie was good it is most definetly for children.l 4 stars
1/11/01 Matt69 Those chickens fucking rocked. highly entertaining. 4 stars
12/28/00 Turtle Movie magic! I had my doubts at first, but this movie's one of the best! 5 stars
12/28/00 Tom What can i say, Brits can do genuine comedy, Yanks can't. It was great 5 stars
12/21/00 Connoisseur Nick Park should have stuck with Wallace & Gromit 3 stars
12/20/00 Fr. Ron Meyer, OMI Fun, funny, relaxing, really enjoyable with stuff to mull over. 4 stars
12/19/00 Destruction Worker See this movie. You ain't CHICKEN, are ya?!? 5 stars
12/15/00 viking Beats Disney by a mile 5 stars
12/11/00 Mic EvilPenguin: ever heard of spoofs? If Indy was the only reference you noticed, I feel for U 4 stars
12/10/00 matthew smith Delightfully hilarious. 5 stars
12/03/00 Phil I hope its nominated for best picture 5 stars
11/28/00 moviegoer hilariously delightful 5 stars
11/25/00 The Evil Penguin nice movie; there's one scene that is a rip-off of Indiana Jones. 3 stars
10/21/00 Johnny Figaro Funny, touching, exceptional craftsmanship... and some of the best action scenes of 2000!! 5 stars
9/08/00 Richard Wright Clever and well-animated tale, though putting in Mel Gibson was just a sop for the Yanks.. 4 stars
7/25/00 Lord Raymos Great for kids and adults (but only if they've seen classics like The Great Escape). 5 stars
7/23/00 Digitalus it was fabulous! 5 stars
7/17/00 PJ Good one Mac, I loved loved this movie is was funny wonderful, and perfect 5 stars
7/15/00 Maclay01 Those chics had great breasts! 4 stars
7/10/00 Marc I loved this movie! Best animated feature ever made! 5 stars
7/08/00 skye chapman fun! certainly worth more than a look. 4 stars
7/06/00 Matthew Bartley Enormous fun 5 stars
7/06/00 Jason Kallelis Easily one of the most entertaining movies this summer 5 stars
7/02/00 Blubberbot Good for kids. Boring for adults. I'm rating this for Adults. 2 stars
7/01/00 Bueller What do you do after Wallace and Gromit? Two words, "Chicken Run." Nick Park is brilliant! 5 stars
6/30/00 Heather The animation is fabulous, one of the summer's best! 5 stars
6/28/00 PhilmPhreak Don't crawl, don't walk - FLY to see this one! 5 stars
6/28/00 AVFred What a Great piece of entertainment. Don't miss this picture, it is the summer's surprise. 5 stars
6/28/00 furtively IF you got kids, its a 5 star. That simple. 4 stars
6/27/00 Overserved Great combo of animation and story. "The Geat Escape" with chickens. 5 stars
6/27/00 Greyjack Hysterically funny. Everyone I know loved it. Will even recommend to Mom! 5 stars
6/27/00 Poppacorn Hens also go for Mel Gibson 4 stars
6/27/00 Heather Keith Surprisingly grim, well crafted 5 stars
6/26/00 Michael Grimm great to look at, the story could have been better 4 stars
6/26/00 Guy Excellent, funny, eye-candy 5 stars
6/26/00 Socky Tocky The claymation world is breathtakingly beautiful. Ginger is the best heroine in long a time 5 stars
6/26/00 Captain Highcrime Absolutely charming. I've never cared for characters more. 5 stars
6/26/00 BillDog Go when people don't bring all the kids! 4 stars
6/26/00 Bubby Take away the clay and your left with shit. Next! 2 stars
6/26/00 Clare Fun & entertaining... some of the best jokes will go over kids's heads. 4 stars
6/26/00 Darren Shea Terrific fun 5 stars
6/25/00 "Persnickety" it's cute, the whole family can get a kick out of this movie! 5 stars
6/23/00 Bevan An awesome flick in the true, grandiose style of Wallace and Grommit 5 stars
6/23/00 frank one of the funniest movies i've ever seen 5 stars
6/22/00 Mike Not as good as the W&G shorts, but better than most of the stuff in theathers at the moment 4 stars
6/20/00 Jack Littlefield Way cool, go with a friend, but re-see the Great Escape first! 5 stars
6/18/00 cinesuerte one of the years best 5 stars
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