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"Chicken Run"

Directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park.
Written by Karey Kirkpatrick.
Starring the voices of Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha and Miranda Richardson.
Release Year:  2000
Review Date:  7/4/00 


Wow!  You're probably thinking, “Man, does Justin have a life?”  I would tell you yes, but you might not believe me.  It is true that I have been in a movie theater each of the last five days, but it is the same as you going to the gym to work out three or four times a week, or hanging out with your girlfriend four or five times a week...I get a lot of happiness out of spending two hours in the theater getting sucked into a world all its own.

Speaking of which, today's film selection is delightful (yes, I just said that...and, I'm younger than 45 years old) in all the ways that animated movies should be.  “Chicken Run”—not so much animated as claymated—comes to us from the creators of “Wallace & Gromitt”, an animated work that won many accolades for its creativity and ingenious interaction between the two main characters.  In “Chicken Run”, the idea is hilarious:  a group of British chickens, led by a chick named Ginger, try and break out of the chicken farm that they are being held captive in by a couple of mean lowlifes that are looking to make it rich in the chicken-killing business.  When the couple installs a huge pie-making machine to strike it rich, Ginger and friends step up their plans to break out of their prison with the help of a newfound friend—an American rooster named Rocky Rhodes (voice of Mel Gibson)—who will hopefully teach the chickens how to fly.

And, that's really it.  This kids' movie was kept intentionally simple so that the filmmakers would have time to introduce us to many of the chicken characters, all but one of whom are white British female voices, and establish the friendship and day-to-day activities that the chickens must endure while in captivity.  It sounds funny, but this movie does have a little bit of the “Women in Prison” film series in this regard.  But, I loved the animation of the chicken characters; I loved it anytime the chickens were all shown smiling, or frowning, or screaming, since the way the chickens are drawn makes them all look really funny when they are doing simple expressions such as those.  And, making them all British was a great idea, since this allows them to spout off a bunch of funny lines in hot British accents.

Gibson is great here; this is a side of him that we don't normally get to see/hear, because usually he is spending time on screen killing a lot of people.  As the only real stud on this female-infested haven, Rocky gets to live it up as the females swoon after him in the pen.  The main supporting characters, which include an overweight chicken named Babs and two rats that are always trying to sell Ginger new gadgets and trinkets in exchange for glorious chicken eggs, are all great.  The filmmakers even include a chicken dance sequence!  I mean, what more can you want:  chickens, rats, and a rooster dancing to some rock & roll!!

This is the kind of G-rated movie that I liked; it really does have little movie in-jokes that appeal to an older audience that don't detract from the fun young'uns will have.  So, if you are feeling like you need to show up with little kids, don't...this movie works in a similar way to “Babe”, a G-rated movie that came out a few years ago that had some real good mass age appeal.  Highly recommended!

Rating:  $8.25 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09