Monday, December 12, 2005

Chicken Little

CHICKEN LITTLE (Mark Dindal, 2005)

Contrary to the fable, there is good reason to believe the sky is falling in CHICKEN LITTLE. Zach Braff voices the diminutive title character, a well-meaning but mistaken sort who causes a panic in Oakey Oaks when he gets conked on the head. Chicken Little believes a piece of the sky hit him, but he lacks proof to support his hysterical warning to the town. Chicken Little is mocked for his claim of imminent trouble from above, but a year later, when he again sees something plummet from the sky, his fears are confirmed in the form of alien spaceships that appear to fracture the heavens.

The popularity of computer-animated films has caused the studios to consider abandoning the production of traditionally animated movies. Disney has supposedly made its last in the traditional style. What’s getting lost in the rush toward CG animation, though, is that the story is more important than the technique. Pixar’s string of successes, begun ten years ago with TOY STORY and capped most recently with THE INCREDIBLES, owes as much to the inventive storylines as the groundbreaking animation.

CHICKEN LITTLE is Disney’s first CG-animated film without Pixar’s involvement. Although the animation may not rival Pixar’s best work, it’s very well done; however, CHICKEN LITTLE’S plot and characters are sorely lacking in the creativity department. The wishy-washy self-empowerment tale hinges on the lack of communication between Chicken Little and his single father Buck Cluck, something best reserved for an episode of OPRAH or DR. PHIL.

Occasionally the animators put some nice touches in the background, such as the bull operating a china shop, but that wit is mostly absent in the foreground. Stale pop culture references, from The Spice Girls to the heavily overused disco anthem “I Will Survive”, make CHICKEN LITTLE anything but hip. As a time-filler, parents could do worse than take their kids to CHICKEN LITTLE, but that’s not setting the bar very high, is it?

Grade: C

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