Chicken Little (2005)
Almost too slight, but a vast improvement on "Dinosaur."
Reviewing "Robots," "The New York Times" opined that when it comes to
animation there's Pixar, there's Japan, and there's everyone else (it
should be noted that not all Japanese cartoons are good - "Shin Chan,"
anyone? - but you see A.O. Scott's point). "Chicken Little" definitely
falls into the "anywhere else" camp, but while it won't siphon away
fans from John Lasseter or Nick Park - especially since Disney's
delayed its UK release for a few months, the way they did with "Sky
High" (but not "Herbie: Fully Loaded," I notice. Idiots) - it's not
The House of Mouse's first attempt at computer animated movies without
Pixar was the skilfully made but hollow "Dinosaur"; this one is under
the auspices of the team behind the wonderful "The Emperor's New
Groove," and while it doesn't have that cartoon's spirit it still has
some virtues of its own. More deliberately cartoonish in its look and
feel than many recent features, it's also probably a little too
sentimental for some tastes - an awful lot of the movie involves our
feathered hero wanting not only to redeem himself for the whole "the
sky is falling" farrago but also to open up two-way communication with
his single dad, with all the Family Issues that implies. Fortunately it
never really swamps the movie, with the family message never overriding
the main intent, i.e. to entertain.
Unlike the inexplicably hugely successful "Madagascar," it doesn't drag
and the voice cast (Zach Braff, Garry Marshall, Joan Cusack, et al)
doesn't get in the way of the movie's effect; it relies a little too
much on popular culture references and songs for its effect
(particularly in the opening - that works in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
in live action - and in the case of Runt of the Litter, the
show-tune-loving pig voiced by Steve Zahn), but it's a colourful,
charming little movie that thankfully ends well before it has a chance
to wear out its welcome, and it's nice to have a movie with a message
that doesn't try to ram it down your throat. There are worse Disney
movies that could have been dedicated to veteran animator Joe Grant.
And if nothing else, I defy anyone to find another movie that has the
voices of Don Knotts and Patrick Stewart joining in on "Don't Go
Breaking My Heart" over the credits...
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