Thursday, October 27, 2011

Disn-A-Thon: Chicken Little (2005)

After Chicken Little causes widespread panic--when he mistakes a falling acorn for a piece of the sky--the young chicken is determined to restore his reputation. But just as things are starting to go his way, a real piece of the sky lands on his head. Chicken Little and his band of misfit friends, Abby Mallard (aka Ugly Duckling), Runt of the Litter and Fish Out of Water, attempt to save the world without sending the town into a whole new panic. [imdb]
I'm going to have to say that I enjoyed Chicken Little even more this time around than any previous viewing.  I actually like that it's not the normal tale of Chicken Little...

Normally, an acorn hits Chicken Little on the head, and (if memory serves me) a hungry wolf convinces him that it was a piece of the sky.  The dumb little chicken then goes off and works everyone up into a frenzy, telling everyone the classic line "The sky is falling!" and the wolf directs everyone to his cave, where he traps and then eats them.

The Disney version here takes place a year after the title character gets hit on the head by what actually appears to be a piece of the sky, and after the crazed frenzy, the towns-people then decide it was actually an acorn, causing Chicken Little to become a mockery.  Being a year later, he's still a living joke, being made into a major motion picture called "Stupid Little Chicken" or whatever... and he has severe emotional problems, mostly due to feeling he has to earn the approval and trust of his father.

After joining the baseball team and actually becoming a hero, he finally feels a connection with his father, only to be then struck by yet another piece of the sky.  An alien "invasion" then unfolds, and all hell breaks loose...

I really like the newer take on the classic story, and it might be one of the few Disney animated films that could really connect with a current audience of the younger generation.  Normally, we leave that to Pixar, but I honestly think Disney pulled it off here, pin-pointing what I am sure is a real issue with a lot of young people these days.

Speaking of Pixar, apparently their distribution contract with Disney was about up in 2004 and was hinging on the success of Chicken Little.  If Disney could pull off a CG animated film well, they may not have needed Pixar around... or something like that.  Either way, the result was Disney buying Pixar and (after a few CG films, the ousting of Eisner, and a full entire restructuring of the animation department... and the whole Disney company really) eventually directing the CG 3-dimensional animation to them.

I look at Chicken Little (and a few of the up-coming movies) as a bit of a test for Disney.  They can successfully do 3D computer-generated movies... but I don't think they should.  The eventual outcome of fully teaming with Pixar, while re-directing their own animation department back towards traditional styles was the right choice to make... as we'll see in a few weeks.

But I refuse to say that this movie is anything but fun, cute, and enjoyable simply because the animation isn't "classic".  It's a great movie that apparently gets better each time you watch it.