“They don’t plot, they don’t scheme, and they are not organized!” This quotation sums up the way that chicken farmer Mrs. Tweedy feels about her chickens. She couldn’t be farther from the truth. The chickens in Chicken Run are personified to be smart, organized and relatable creatures. The title refers to the chicken’s attempt to escape from the farm they are currently a part of.
These dreams might be realized, after a rooster by the name of Rocky (voiced by Mel Gibson) crash lands in their coop. The chickens trapped inside are led by Ginger (Julia Sawaldha), and they hope that Rocky will teach them how to fly out of their current situation, over the fence and into freedom. Rocky reluctantly accepts, after being forced into his decision by Ginger. Rocky is on the run from the circus, and ginger offers him protection in exchange for his assistance.
There is an actual threat in Chicken Run. The owners of the farm are not fooling around. As the film begins, we become aware of this; a chicken gets its head chopped off. What a lovely way to begin this children’s film. That’s not all that Chicken Run is though. Despite it being a charming, clay-animation, family-friendly film, Chicken Run is appealing to all audiences. This is due to it being an incredibly deep film, while still managing to give everyone who watches it something to look for.
Take the younger people, for example. They’ll fall in love with some of the chickens, possibly all of them. Each major chicken is given a distinct, eccentric personality. Ginger is the most memorable one, as we spend the most time with this courageous hen, but we also get to know about some of the other chickens. There is a scientific one, a war veteran, as well as a ditzy one. All the bases are covered when it comes to stereotypes.
The main reason for the escape attempts comes from an even greater threat proposed by Mrs. Tweedy. She isn’t happy with her current profit margin, and decides that in order to increase it, she should turn her chickens into pies. Neglecting the fact that this wouldn’t actually help her long-term profits, she blindly follows the advertisement that comes in her mail one day. This further exacerbates the chicken’s need to escape from their cages.
Mrs. Tweedy has a husband, and he ends up being a sympathetic villain. He has to blindly follow his wife’s orders, and ends up playing a more comic relief role for the audience. He’s not entirely evil, and comes off as more dim-witted than anything else. This works as a nice contrast between him and his wife, (who never refer to each other by first name), as the latter is a representative of pure evil, while the former is gentler in nature.
The most noticeable thing about Chicken Run, at least, right off the bat, is the fact that it is stop-motion animated. Clay is used in this case, and it gives the film a charming feel right off the bat, even if the events depicted on screen are less than charming. The animation is wonderful, being smooth in nature and incredibly well done. The models used look great, and the personified chickens will give children something to look at, as well as give the adults a work of art to admire and appreciate.
Beneath all of its charm, there is an intriguing story at play. There isn’t much in terms of plot twists, (there’s one major one though) or character changes throughout, but it’s a simple story that is told well. The escape attempts from the chickens are admirable, and there is a real heart beneath it. The entire film, dark as it sometimes is, is one of hope.
It helps achieve this feeling of hope with its humor as well. On top of its great animation, characters and story, it is also really funny. From the personalities of the chickens, to the farmers, to the dialogue, everything that happens is funny. There aren’t many jokes, but the back-and-forth between the chickens allows it to remain a quotable and memorable film.
The highlights of the film come from two rats named Nick and Fetcher. They are always in search of eggs, and offer to trade supplies from the outside world for them. Their dialogue is the funniest part of the film, and even their actions warrant laughter. They play everything straight, even if the situation doesn’t call for that.
Chicken Run is a great comedy. It has enough to offer for all ages, despite its seemingly childish shell. Underneath that shell is a deep film, filled with rich characters and a large amount of humor. It’s well-animated as well, and has something for everyone. Children will fall in love with the chickens, while adults will appreciate the art style and get some of the humor that younger audience members won’t. The story is simple, but it is well told, allowing Chicken Run to be both a memorable and highly quotable film.