Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Chicken Run (2000) - ★★★★½

Director: Peter Lord, Nick Park
Writers: Peter Lord, Nick Park (Story), Karey Kirkpatrick (Screenplay)
Voices: Julia Sawatha, Mel Gibson, Miranda Richardson, Tony Haygarth, Lynn Ferguson, Benjamin Whitrow

Have you ever wondered what The Great Escape would be like if the humans were replaced by chickens? Well look no further than Chicken Run! It's a hilarious, beautiful, and a downright entertaining movie from the team that brought you Wallace and Gromit. I was obsessed with this movie as a child! I must've seen it dozens of times in the space of one year. Last night I watched it for the first time in years, and my feelings haven't changed. It's one of the best animated movies I've ever seen.

Set in the 1950s, a group of chickens on an egg laying farm desperately try to escape by any means necessary. They build catapults, tunnels, and even dress as the owners to try to escape to greener pastures. Meanwhile, the owner Mrs. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson), is sick of miniscule profits from collecting eggs. So she decides to turn the egg farm into a chicken-pie making factory, and all of the chickens lives are in danger! Luckily for the chickens, a rambunctious 'flying' rooster named Rocky (Mel Gibson), just happens to land in their coop. He says he can teach them how to fly, which appears to be their only hope to escape being turned into pies.

"I don't want to be a pie... I don't like gravy!" It's lines like these that make this movie so funny. It's classic English humor, where there's always one dimwitted character providing the comic relief. Every character has a really cool personality and their own little niche, whether it be the fat-sassy hen or the scheming-resourceful rats. They turned The Great Escape into a highly original, funny story about a chicken coop. Now that takes skill.

Chicken Run is also thrilling because their lives are at stake! You're reminded of this when you see one of the chicken's being taken to a shed to be beheaded. Afterwards, the main character, Ginger, sits atop a roof looking into a free and open field. She says "We've got to get out of here," which stresses to us that they really do need to escape. It was a sad and beautiful scene.

I'm not a huge fan of them 'humanizing' the chickens to the point of giving them teeth and wings that act as hands. I can see how the hands were necessary in order to explain how they build these machines, but it takes away a bit of the magic in the story. Other than that, I loved everything about Chicken Run. 

The highlight? Mrs. Tweedy. She is one of the most dastardly, wicked, hilarious villains in the history of animated movies! She'd make my top 10 evil characters for sure. She sees the chickens as revolting creatures that are only worth being eaten. Her scenes with Mr. Tweedy are the funniest in the movie. She really raised Chicken Run to a whole new level.

Mrs. Tweedy fantasizing about killing chickens.
The main reason I'm giving Chicken Run such a high-score is because it is still funny and fresh. Even the stop-motion animation looks perfectly fine after 13 years (something that computer animated movies haven't quite lived up to after such a long time). As a child, it was one of my all time favorite movies. Even today, as an adult, I still see it as one of the greatest achievements in animation.


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