Sep 2, 2014

Review: Chicken Run (2000)

I'm a huge fan of any work that is directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park, have been since I was a kid because of Wallace and Gromit. That's why it's a huge mystery to me why it's taken me so long to finally see Chicken Run. I still remember all the advertising there was for it back in 2000. Being only a ten-year old at the time, it looked familiar because of having already seen most of the Wallace and Gromit shorts, but it didn't click that it was by the same people. My family wasn't a huge go out to the movies family anyway, so begging to go see it wouldn't have done anything. Anyway, here I am fourteen years later having finally seen it.

Apparently there was a big fight between the big animation studios to collaborate with Aardman Animations for their first feature film. Peter Lord and Nick Park who own the company are brilliant and their work has the kind of humour that works anywhere. DreamWorks won in the end which was pretty big for them because they were in the middle of their big war against Disney to reign supreme in the animation game. Funnily enough, it would be one of their own movies that would rob Chicken Run of an Academy Award after having missed out on a nomination in 2000 for whatever reason. Shrek won best animation in 2001 and the thing is, I would easily put Chicken Run ahead of it.

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Genre: animation, family, comedy
Directed by: Peter Lord, Nick Park
Produced by: Peter Lord, Nick Park, David Sproxton, etc.
Written by: Karey Kirkpatrick
Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams, John Powell
Running time: 84 minutes
Production company: DreamWorks Animation, Pathé, Aardman Animations
Distributed by: DreamWorks Distribution, Pathé, Pathé Distribution, etc.
Country: United Kingdom, United States
Language: English
Budget: $45,000,000
Box office: $224,834,564 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Miranda Richardson, Tony Haygarth, Benjamin Whitrow, Timothy Spall, Phil Daniels, Jane Horrocks, Imelda Staunton, Lynn Ferguson, John Sharian



Synopsis 

 

On a farm somewhere in the country in the UK, Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy (Tony Haygarth and Miranda Richardson) run a chicken farm. Mr. Tweedy can be said to be a bit of an oaf but Mrs. Tweedy on the other hand is a real piece of work. Seeing that egg production is starting to fall and being tired of being poor, she decides to re-outfit the farm to produce homemade chicken pies that will be made by an automated chicken pie machine. Led by Ginger (Julia Sawalha) and American rooster Rocky (Mel Gibson), the chickens attempt to break out of the farm before they meet their baked ends.

Review


In true Aardman fashion, the animation in Chicken Run is astounding. Apparently it was filmed at twenty frames per second as opposed to the usual twenty-four, but everything looks fluid and clean anyway. You could never mistake Chicken Run for anything else but something done by Lord and Park and there's just something hilarious looking about chickens with teeth, I can't explain it. The action sequences are really well done and it's incredible to think of the work that went into making this film.

Chicken Run reminded me of just how awful and scary machines can be. The machine that is brought in to turn the chickens into pies is not quite as scary as the one in A Close Shave but it's close. I gess Lord and Park have a real thing against industrialism. There are quite a few dark moments involving death more than once, but it's handled very tastefully for a kid's movie. Anyhow, there are also enough cheerier scenes that help to keep things light.

The humour in Chicken Run is able to work based on its dialogue or simply on its slapstick. There are some great recurring gags that don't feel overdone and there are more than enough cleverly written jokes as well. It's very charmingly English with all the hens besides Ginger acting like the typical middle-aged British woman. Point is, you'll laugh whether you're ten or you're fifty.

After all this buildup waiting to see Chicken Run, it didn't disappoint me in the least. Peter Lord and Nick Park stay true to their Wallace and Gromit heritage. In collaborating with DreamWorks, they don't sell out and they keep their integrity intact. With some slight dark touches balanced by lots of laughs, Chicken Run is a movie for everyone.

Rating


8/10