Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chicken Run (2000)

Directed by Nick Park and Peter Lord. I watched this with Max, who was reluctant at first, but completely sold on it once he understood that this was made by "the Wallace and Gromit guy." He was further sold by a menu item on the DVD labeled the "panic button" which cuts to a moment in the film when a screen full of chickens run around shrieking for a few seconds. He needed to see this over and over.

The story is simple. A bunch of chickens race to escape their farm while the farmer is busy upgrading production on a machine that grinds live chickens into fully-packaged, ready-to-ship pies. The chickens are losing hope when a stranger arrives to offer help, although they don't know that his arrival was an accident based on his own incompetence. Everyone grows up a little. There are a lot of laughs.

There are three great points to be made about this film. The first is the pacing. It goes by very quickly because it's full of good ideas. No scene is wasted without some unique idea and genuine contribution to the plot; its worth seeing the film just for the scene inside the pie-making machine. The second point is the style. This is a beautiful film. Animated films now are all computer generated and few have much warmth to them. This one uses clay and it makes a big difference. The third point is rhythm. You don't realize how much this pot has come to boil by the third act when all the chaos hits. That's nice screenwriting, when the momentum doesn't just smack you in the face.

This is rated-G, though if your kid is younger than 7 or so, keep in mind that if they haven't figured it all out that chicken meat is chopped up chickens, this flick will put it all together for them.

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