Review: Chicken Little (2005)

Chicken Little

Chicken Little

Rating



Director

Mark Dindal

Screenplay

Robert L. Baird, Steve Bencich, Ron J. Friedman, Dan Gerson

Length

77 min.

Starring

Zach Braff, Garry Marshall, Don Knotts, Patrick Stewart, Amy Sedaris, Steve Zahn, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, Harry Shearer, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Patrick Warburton, Adam West

MPAA Rating

G

Buy/Rent Movie

Soundtrack

Poster

Source Material

Review

The sky is falling. Then again, so are my expectations. What could have been a fun kids film in Chicken Little turns into an exercise in old school Disney paint-by-numbers storytelling.

Chicken Little has been told as a cautionary tale for years to children about the dangers of fear. Disney’s version of Chicken Little has very little to do with that original morale. Instead, it’s about the relationship between a widowed rooster (though we never know for sure that his wife is dead, she’s just not around) and his can-do-nothing-right son.

Zach Braff yields the voice for young Chicken Little. He definitely gets the vote for the most surprising vocal work. His voice fits perfectly to the hyperactive little chicken and his pseudo-depressed mood shifts. Garry Marshall voices his father Buck Cluck and fails to spark much imaginative comparison.

Little runs around with a slew of interesting friends, odd-ball friends: Abby Mallard (a.k.a. Ugly Duckling) (Joan Cusack), Runt of the Litter (Steve Zahn) and Fish Out of Water. These are not from the original telling but others like Henny Penny, Goosey Loosey, Turkey Lurkey and Ducky Lucky play relatively insignificant roles. Only Foxy Loxy figures prominently and even she has been altered from her original villainy.

Still, Chicken Little is fun at times. Much of the first half of the film is entertaining with plenty of sight gags and corny humor. However, as the film attached the label hero to the film’s protagonist only half way through this terribly short film, you begin to lose interest in his success because you’re now assured everything will work out fine in the end.

The vocal work is typical for this type of film. While Braff and Zahn does a superb job, the rest of the cast don’t add much to the overall quality of the production. Marshall is an easily recognizable voice and, while it wouldn’t have been difficult for him to play something unlike his past characters, he sticks to the same shtick. Cusack is hardly noticeable. Ugly Duckling is rarely entertaining and fails to develop into a multi-dimensional character.

The characterization problems are easily a fault of the multitude of screenwriters that seem to write these types of films. There are four writers attached to Chicken Little and they work like a comedy team for a late night show. The film feels like the found a bunch of really funny jokes and tied them together loosely with an insignificant plot. That’s why films like The Incredibles are often as successful as they are. One writer takes on the challenge of penning the entire script. It makes it more like a live-action movie instead of like an amalgamation of one-liners.

Chicken Little will no doubt appeal to children who can’t distinguish between quality filmmaking and television cartoons; however, adults will find very little entertaining about the thankfully short computer animated feature.

Review Written

November 14, 2005

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