Starring: Zach Braff, Joan Cusack, Dan Molina
Director: Mark Dindal
Running Time: 81 mins
Chicken Little is an American film about a young chicken who, after becoming the laughing stock of his small town, is suddenly thrust into action as he fights to save his hometown from an alien invasion.
This was the first time that Disney strayed from their classic style of traditional animation to 3D computer animation. We know now that the studio has worked wonders with the new brand of animation, but as a first attempt, Chicken Little really wasn’t good.
Made in an era where everyone but Pixar seemed unable to get computer animation to look better than cutscenes in a cheap video game (see Hoodwinked!), Chicken Little is a really frustrating film to watch from a visual perspective, overwhelmingly because it breaks so violently from the Disney mystique.
Again, you’ve got to start somewhere, and even one of the world’s most experienced and most powerful animation studios can get it wrong on the first go. However, there’s something irritatingly uncanny about the way that the characters are styled and move in Chicken Little, and it’s almost off-putting to the point of ignoring the story altogether.
However, taking the example of Hoodwinked! once again, if the screenplay is there, then it doesn’t matter what the movie looks like. In fact, as Hoodwinked! had such a great screenplay, with brilliant humour, a clever story and fantastic voice performances to boot, I look back almost fondly on the animation style, as if the screenplay was prioritised above all else.
The same can’t be said for Chicken Little. Beyond its visual struggles, this film really lacks the magic of a great Disney movie, with a range of boring, whiney or downright moronic characters, and a throwaway story that features next to no engaging character drama or even enjoyable laughs.
This was of course made in the doldrums of Disney’s post-Renaissance slump in the 2000s, and I remember going to see Chicken Little in the cinema as a child. But I have to say that I didn’t think all too much of it even then, and it’s a film that’s aged really poorly over time.
The amount of attention that I’m paying to the visual style is an indication of just how little there is to mention about the story here, and your eyes wander when there’s nothing of real interest going on. The voice performances do little to bring any charisma to an ensemble of comic animals, further contributing to a really boring watch. So, that’s why I’m giving Chicken Little a 5.4 overall.