Projections - Movie Reviews

Chicken Run Chicken Run

One would not expect a claymation production from the Gumby genre to be a dominant summer movie.  But directors Peter Lord and Nick Park, the creative team behind Wallace & Gromit, have developed a delightful, clever, pleasant and joyful adventure about chickens who long for freedom.

At the Tweedy egg farm Mrs. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson) and her henpecked husband (Tony Haygarth) raise hens for the eggs, but the unhappy chickens continually attempt to escape their confinement.  Lead by Ginger (Julia Sawalha), they are determined not to lose their heads or become part of a pie.  The opportunity for hope comes with Rocky (Mel Gibson) "the lone free ranger," who in reality is, "Rocky the Flying Rhode Island Red Rooster".  Rocky has escaped from the circus in which he is shot from a cannon and on a fateful night flies into the chicken yard.

Each attempt by the hens to escape has failed.  Digging under the fence is too slow.  A turnip is squashed as it is used to test a catapult.  They use a cart on a track, as in The Great Escape, to go through a tunnel honed out with an egg beater.  All attempts bring the escapees into the hands of Mr. Tweedy and his vicious dogs.  Ginger is constantly placed in solitary confinement as punishment, where she bounces a ball to fill time.

But it is Mrs. Tweedy's Chicken Pies, that bring hut 17, which looks like Stalag 17, into a cohesive group determined not to be placed in a pie with vegetables and gravy.  As Babs (Jane Horrocks) a chubby knitting chicken states: "I don't woont to be a pie."  The Tweedy's, by purchasing a large comprehensive pie making machine, hope to increase their profit beyond the meager income from eggs.  The change means inmates can no longer survive simply by producing eggs, they are all doomed to become chicken dinners.

With Fowler (Benjamin Whitrow), a retired military rooster, Rocky is forced to help Ginger lead the flock up and over the fence and on to freedom.  In the end it takes a brave little chicken to find paradise and even the friendly cooperative rats are saved.

We are easily caught up in the plight of the chickens who become personalities.  When Ginger appears to be the next butterball dinner for Tweedy we can't believe she will be lost.  Chicken Run accomplishes what few films can, it holds a mature audience with its clever script while delighting kids with the antics and heroics of the chicken flock.

Chicken Run
A Top Ten pick for 2000

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