Film Review *1/2: The Sky Falls Down On ...Chicken Little...
Disney...s Animated Feature Forgets the Funny
By Yong-yi Zhu
Directed by Mark Dindal
Written by Robert L. Baird and Steve Bencich
Starring Zach Braff, Joan Cusack
If you expected something spectacular out of Disney without having animation guru Pixar by its side, you would be sadly mistaken. “Chicken Little” falls far short of animated classics like “Finding Nemo” or “Toy Story.” It may be an entertaining film for small children, but for everyone else, it will simply be a film with far too much cuteness and few intelligent jokes.
The story is an adorable one. Chicken Little (voiced by Zach Braff) is a kid with a self-confidence problem. He rang the bell at the town center to warn everyone that the sky was falling but had no evidence to back himself up and nobody has taken him seriously him ever since. He wants to please his father, who thinks Little should just quit on life because he can’t seem to get anything right. Chicken Little is also a bit of a misfit at school. His friends include an incredibly deranged duck named Abby Mallard (voiced by Joan Cusack), a disproportionate pig named Runt of the Litter (Steve Zahn) and a dancing fish named Fish Out Of Water (Dan Molina). They’re not exactly the “in crowd” either.
However, one day, Little decides to join the baseball team. He is never given an opportunity to accomplish anything because he is so small. But at the last game of the season, the championship game, Little is given the chance to step up to the plate and deliver the game winner. Not only does he do it in dramatic fashion, but he becomes the town hero. Suddenly, ridicule about his sky-falling incident is forgotten. His father loves him and he is a happy chicken once again, until Little finds out that the sky is falling once more.
The plot is enjoyable, but seems to deviate from the central theme of the movie at times. The main problem is the relationship between Little and his father. The film is not focused entirely on this, and goes in awkward and roundabout ways to develop the bond between father and son.
The music in the movie has its ups and downs. The ups mainly stem from the score, while the downs come from songs. The songs playing in the background of scenes did not support the movie well. Often, they would overwhelm the action in the foreground. However, the score is brilliant. The best part is how strikingly similar it sounds to “Star Wars” during scenes with the aliens. It reminds you of scenes with Imperial Star Destroyers and X-wings. Yet at the same time, it was able to retain the very innocence of a children’s film.
The characters in the film are not very detailed, and the animation is nothing spectacular. Perhaps Disney had to make the characters less realistic because it was unable to produce better results, but the cuteness, although endearing at times, made the movie appear incredibly fake.
The coolest part of the movie was the fact that you wore 3D glasses throughout the entire film, reminiscent of amusement park rides. However, the movie does not take advantage of it three-dimensionality. The characters seem flat at times, and nothing is ever made to come directly into your face. Perhaps the only effective use of 3D is in the opening credits when the title “Chicken Little” comes on screen.
One big problem with the movie is its lack of real humor. The humor in the film is fit only for a two-year-old. The writers tried too hard to make the film funny, and in doing so, left the movie seriously lacking in intelligent comedy. Sure, it’s laughable to see a little chicken use soda to boost himself up to the top of a building, but it doesn’t keep you entertained throughout the entire film. We’re not even sure if the humor is aimed at kids or adults. For example, there is one scene where Chicken Little’s friends sing and dance to Spice Girls. Adults probably don’t find that humorous, while children nowadays don’t even know who the Spice Girls are. I didn’t think it was funny, and my guess is that you won’t either.