Chicken Run

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy run a failing chicken farm in Yorkshire; the chickens are caged in the style of a prison camp with a high fence and barbed wire, with two dogs that patrol the grounds. As their chickens are producing fewer eggs, Mrs. Tweedy comes up with the idea of converting their product from eggs to chicken pies, and orders a large automatic pie maker.

One chicken, Ginger, has long had visions of escaping with the help of her hen friends Babs, Bunty, and Mac, and two rats, Nick and Fetcher, that helps to acquire “contraband” from the Tweedy’s to aid Ginger’s plans. However, she is always caught and put into solitary for some time. During one such escapade, she learns of Mrs. Tweedy’s plan, and hastens her attempts to flee the camp. While thinking of a new plan, Ginger witnesses a Rhode Island Red rooster fly over the fence, and crash into one of the coops, breaking his wing. Ginger and the other chickens help to hide him from the Tweedys and care for his wing, learning that his name is Rocky. Ginger is particularly interested in Rocky’s ability to fly, and begs him to help train her and the other chickens to do the same. Rocky is coy, but proceeds to try to help train the chickens, unable to fully demonstrate due to his broken wing.

The pie making machine finally arrives and after some time, Mr. Tweedy completes the assembly and immediately goes for Ginger to test it out. Rocky is able to save Ginger and helps to damage the machine, giving the chickens only a short time to plan to escape while Mr. Tweedy repairs it. Amid the training, Rocky holds a large party to help relieve the stress, where it is revealed his wing is healed, and Ginger demands he show them how to fly the next day. When morning arrives, Ginger finds Rocky has fled, leaving behind a part of a poster that shows him to be a stunt rooster, shot out of a cannon from a nearby circus, and unable to fly on his own. Ginger and the other chickens are depressed. Fowler the rooster tries to cheer Ginger up by telling tales from his days as an RAF mascot, leading Ginger to the idea of creating an airplane to flee the Tweedy’s. All the chickens with extra help from the rats secretly construct the required parts for the plane from their coops while racing against Mr. Tweedy’s repairs. Meanwhile, Rocky, traveling the countryside, sees a billboard for Mrs. Tweedy’s Chicken Pies, and is inspired to go back to help.

With the machine fixed, Mr. Tweedy again goes for Ginger, but the chickens are ready to escape. With Rocky helping to knock Mr. Tweedy out, they tie Mr. Tweedy up and distract the dogs long enough to complete assembly of their plane. As they are taking off, Mrs. Tweedy chases them down and catches onto a light strand caught in the wheels. Mrs. Tweedy climbs the strand, intent on chopping Ginger’s head off, while Ginger races to severe the strand. Ginger does so in time, and sends Mrs. Tweedy straight into the vent of the pie machine, causing it to rupture, the force of the escaping gravy knocking down the barn they had constructed it in.

Later, the chickens have found a quiet glade where they can enjoy their freedom and raise their chicks, while Ginger and Rocky have developed a romantic relationship.

REVIEW:

Wow! Has it really been 15 years since Chicken Run was first released? Where has the time gone? Seems like it was just yesterday, I tell ya! Since it has been quite some time since I last saw this film, I wonder how my opinion has changed on it, if at all.

What is this about?

Facing mortal peril, Rocky the rooster and Ginger the hen decide to rebel against evil farmers Mr. and Ms. Tweedy and lead their fellow chickens in a great escape from the farm where they are being held captive.

What did I like?

Cock of the walk. All but two of the chickens in this film are hens, even if one of the hens is questionable. Rocky, played by Mel Gibson, is pretty much the living embodiment of what you would expect from him. Cocky, full of himself, slightly deceitful, all characteristics that were associated with Gibson (at this point in time). He was a good choice for this character, though I do question why, since Rocky is American, they went with him. Why not just make him Australian? Oh well, no big.

Don’t need a man. Feminist, girl power stuff is not my cup of tea. I’m not against it, mind you, I just am not a fan of the “movement”. I tend to be in the unfortunate minority of people who think that everyone is equal. That being said, every now and then it is a treat to watch the girls take the lead, and this is a film that had maybe 5 males in it total and 4 of them are minor characters. The hens, specifically the one named Ginger aren’t fawning over Rocky. Well, they do, but that passes. I applaud the film for making these characters more realistic than one would expect, even if they are a bunch of hens.

Claymation. Even back in 2000, computers were running studios. For example, this was made at the time Pixar was really starting to take off, and yet it isn’t done with computers, but rather old school Claymation, a technique that in many ways parallels stop motion. It takes time, patience, and skill to get just a one second shot, imagine how long it took to do 90 minutes! Bravo, animators, bravo!

What didn’t I like?

Other animals. My grandparents lived on a farm and they had horses, chickens, pigs, cows, goats, and a couple of guinea. Most farms tend to have a variety of animals, so why is it that this chicken farm consist of all these chickens and a couple of rats? What, no cows? Horses? I’d even settle for a dog! It just felt unnatural to not have any other species around.

Barren maidens. Chickens lay eggs, everyone knows that. We also all know that chicks come from said eggs. Excluding the incubation period and all that jazz, one would figure that there would at least be some younger chicks around. As it seems, these are all the old housewife versions of these hens. They could have at least made the airheaded one that was always knitting sit on a nest or something.

Mr. Tweedy. If there is a villain in this film, it is the Tweedys. Mrs. Tweedy would be more of the primary antagonist, if you ask me. Mr. Tweedy, on the other hand, is just the typical henchman husband. He doesn’t seem to be particularly bright, he does whatever she says, and is called on to do “manly” tasks. He does however notice that the chickens are a bit organized, but who listens to the help, right? That is the problem I have with his character. This guy should have been made into more of a force, but instead they just stick him in a couple of situations and hope for the best.

Chicken Run has earned its place in animation history. Not only is this film full of fun, action, and comedy, but it does so without resorting to pop culture references, gross out humor, or insulting the audience’s intelligence. While I am not totally on board with the casting, they did a good enough job. I have to say that in the end this is a film that the whole family can sit together and enjoy. I highly recommend it!

5 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “Chicken Run”

  1. I always loved CHICKEN RUN. It’s the kind of movie that’s better the second time around. I don’t know why that should be, but it is. In fact, I love this movie so much I have the little action figures on my desk. (They’re not really ‘action’ because they don’t move, but you get the idea.)

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